I was helping a friend out in her kitchen. We were alone and really enjoying some sincere visiting. I can’t remember how the conversation came about. Somehow our conversation leant itself to me asking my friend about her spiritual journey.
She then shared with me from her experience and observations of the world that she thought there was a God. She explained to me that she didn’t think that anyone could claim they know God nor did she want to be defined by him or anything else, really.
My simple and impromptu response was something along the lines of, “…I don’t feel like I have a choice in the matter. If there is a creator and I’m created, I’m subject to my design. Like the sun rises and sets according to it’s design, I too will be born, live, and die by design.” and I didn’t really respond to her comment about knowing God at all.
If my friend reads this post (which she might, because we’ve become fairly close as time passes and I’m thankful) she may find it surprising that I do think I know God, but I hope she hears me out.
I risk sounding pompous to say I know God, but I’m willing to take that risk because if I’m heard, whom ever reads this may see I have nothing to claim as my own doing in knowing him. I’m sure this was a risk I wasn’t willing to make in the face to face conversation and I’m sad because after exploring my thoughts on the matter, I can see clearly that there is much to gain in knowing God and it’s worth sharing.
Our Right to Claim We Can Know God.
On my own spiritual journey, I started off making most of my inferences of God from my experiences and observations. When I was younger, I can remember times in the car with just my mom and I, late at night, in the vast darkness of western Kansas. I would stare at the starry sky in real awe; asking my mom a billion questions about who created this and what my part in it all was.
Without these answers being told to me by someone who knew them, I would either have made my own inferences or heard them from God himself.
It wasn’t until my first year of college that I was told that I didn’t have to make my own conclusions about God but He in fact has purposely revealed Himself to us and explained our role in all that He created.
Here is an account of Jesus revealing His relationship with God:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you,the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
Believing that Jesus is God is the foundation to knowing God. I no longer need to look at the stars and guess. I am told. People recorded Jesus’s teachings in the Bible and I get to know about God through them.
While it be one thing to understand that Jesus is God and believe that his teachings are true, the most life changing thing I did was to treasure who God is above anything else.
From Knowing to Treasuring
What I failed to mention to my friend was that is it more than just being the creation. Yes, I have no choice in that I was born and will die by creation, but the way we choose to live our lives matters.
Like my friend has a choice in what she is defined by, I do too.
Another one of our friends had told my friend that she can’t possibly say she can’t be defined by anything, because saying so simply means she’s defined by not wanting to be defined. In essense we center our lives around how we define ourselves.
As you can see, an apostle of Jesus, Paul, models his own heart on how valuable Jesus (the Christ) is to him,
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
My own heart reflects Paul’s above.
He speaks of:
- Rejoicing in Christ
I find my life in Christ is greater than all that is to gain in the world. Christ offers forgiveness, a purpose, eternal unconditional love. Nothing else in this world can offer these things.
- Being found in Christ
My trust in Jesus allows me to live a life not focused on myself. For example, when I trust that Jesus has forgiven my wrong doings, I am able to also forgive others for their wrong doings towards me.
- Making Christ his own
When I choose to live a life similar to Jesus’s life, I am united with Him. When I choose to live to serve others like as Paul says, “…becoming life him in his death.” I can relate to his thought process and his love.
- And, finally, obtaining the prize of Christ in the last day
While giving up a life of putting myself above others and living a life of service in the example and forgiveness of Jesus, I gain eternal life with God. This is the hope I have on this earth.
Just simply being creation doesn’t adequately explain knowing God. Because of Jesus we can be confident we know him and then we have a choice to treasure him and respond to him.