I am currently knee-deep in preparing to teach in the next round of bible studies as well as studying Chip Ingram’s From Good to Great in God’s Eyes, but the next book I want to read is The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. This book opens with the thought that what comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. I’ve been around people who have some strong opinions and attitudes about God and life in general. They rarely go to church or open a bible in real study or spend very much time in prayer. Or they talk about karma. Some think it’s OK to lie to get ahead or to tell little white lies. Others openly talk about hating people and doing something to get back at them. Many have no problem talking about other people. Or they think like the world when it comes to marriage problems, money issues, and parenting or any other issue you can think of. They think like the world.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not think I have it all together or know better, or am any better than anyone else. I am naturally a lot like Peter but strive to be like Paul who says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. The Blue Letter Bible commentary says it this way “Paul knew he was following Jesus, so he did not hesitate to tell the Corinthian Christians to imitate his walk with the Lord. He knew the Corinthian Christians needed examples, and he was willing to be such an example.” I want to be such an example but my true desire is for others to examine their own thoughts and actions against those of Christ, not mine. I can admit that in the past I’ve given lip-service to my faith, but no more. I consciously examine my thoughts and beliefs and compare to biblical principles (which often aggravates some people I know and love.) I constantly seek to know God. Deeply.
Knowing God is a daily journey and not a once a week or every now and then destination. It is not happenstance but takes deliberate actions. He cannot be fully known from hearing a preacher from the pulpit or on radio or TV. His word does not jump into your heart by a bible sitting on the coffee table. Prayers are praise to a Holy God and also are conversations with a friend rather than saying grace before a meal. It takes effort. It involves creating daily habits of study, prayer, meditation and fellowship with other believers. Even after 25 years, Paul, one of the greatest examples of a follower of Jesus, said he still did not know Christ as he ought but continually sought Him.
Many people act upon what they think they know about God but you simply cannot know God unless you spend time with Him. You can know about Him but you cannot know Him well, truly, or deeply.
A few years ago, USA Today published an article about how people view or see God. First, they said, people believe that there is the Authoritarian God, described as being angry at humanity’s sin and engaged in our lives and world affairs. Next there is the Benevolent God. Those who saw God in this way believe in a primarily forgiving God who would want us to care for the sick and needy and so forth.
Then there was the Critical God, whom people view as having a judgmental eye on the world, but won’t intervene either to punish or to comfort. Lastly, there is the Distant God. People who hold this view simply believe there is a cosmic force that launched the world and left it spinning on its own. It’s a sad thing that out of almost 2000 people surveyed, there doesn’t seem to be a complete nor accurate view of God. God definitely judges but is also full of grace and mercy. God is not distant or aloof and He certainly doesn’t leave us alone to fend for ourselves.
Some people see God as the man upstairs. Some people see God as sitting on His throne just waiting for someone to mess up so He can “get him”. Some people see God as nothing but love. Some people claim Jesus was a pacifist or that he would choose a certain political affiliation. Some people have a small God. Some people reject God because someone in the church hurt them.
It has often rightly been said that Christianity is not a religion. It is a personal relationship with the living God. Personal relationships do not run on autopilot. They take work and consistent effort.
What do you know about God? What does your daily effort to know Him look like ?
Do you know what He says about the personal and social issues of today like adultery, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, living together, stem-cell research, drug legalization, marriage, divorce, disciplining children, entitlement, money, government, evolution, how to love other people as He loves them… or do you think you know what He says?
Do you recognize the holiness of God as well as his love? Do you really know the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe as your personal friend through a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Do you know what He says about you?
Deliberately spend time with Him and prepare to be changed by a Holy and loving God. I know it is making all the difference with me.