Sunday, May 30, 2010

How Do We Know God/How Is God's Being Made Known to Us?

How do we “know” God? Don’t go telling me to pick up a Bible and begin reading. I know that I can find out about God by reading but I want to hear how we “know” God. Another way to put the same question might be, “How is God’s being made known to us?”

I’m trying very hard not to form my questions by using any gender specific pronouns. That’s not very easy. I grew up reading the King James version of the Bible and every pronoun used the masculine reference and it’s very hard for me to not use that reference. So if I slip and say “Him” or “His” please forgive me. I know that God doesn’t have a gender. I know that God is, was, and yet to be but I am after all just a male human being and it’s very hard to change what has been programmed into my brain.

So, back to the original question, “How do we know God or how is God’s being made know to us?” The only point of reference I have is from my own experience as a human being. How do we get to know others?

We get to know others by talking with them, by hanging out with them, by spending time with them. After a while we “know” them, kind of. Actually we only know what people allow us access to. What we know about each other is probably pretty superficial.

Remember the old television program The Newly Weds. We all laughed when they were asked questions to see how well they really “knew” each other. Today the shoe’s on the other foot. The question is, “How do we know God?”

Now, when your friends ask you to tell them about God what descriptive words or phrases do you use? I believe the answers we would give depend on our relationship with God.

I haven’t even got to what today is all about yet, the Trinity. And I don’t think I will. I think, if we’re all honest, we all “know” God in different ways and some of them are gender specific. Why’s that? I don’t have a good answer because to be honest it’s all a mystery to me. It’s kind of like calculus. I know what it is but there’s no way that I can begin to describe what it is or how it works or what it’s used for. Trying to explain God is about the same for me.

A lot of words have been written in the Confessions and in church doctrine in an attempt to more clearly understand and define God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I think, and it’s only my opinion, that God will reveal everything we need to know in his good time. And how that is accomplished is another mystery.

We “know” God through the life of Jesus as recorded for us in the Bible. And we come to understand it through the power of the Holy Spirit as the Word is interpreted to us, as we read, ponder, and reflect on its Message for each of us.

How you “know” God, how God is revealed to you is, more than likely, different for each of us. Basically I believe it depends on our faith which is what Paul was speaking about in his letter to the Romans. We are “justified by faith” and “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand.”

So, there you have it. We “know” God through our faith and we have our faith because God has granted us access by his grace. It’s all grace. We know God by being in relationship with God. We know God by how willing we are to believe, by how willing we are to let go of the things that tie us down to this world. The more we relieve ourselves of our burdens the more God is revealed to us.

The more we give or give up the more we receive. I don’t know why that’s just how it seems to work. And it’s different for every one of us. Why, ask God. Only God can answer these questions.

Theologians have spent years and years trying to answer this question. If they can’t come up with something simple that everyone can understand then I’m certainly not going to try. As I said it’s all about our faith and God’s grace.

So, now what do we do? I think the most important action any of us can take is to work on our relationship with God. Relationships take a whole lot of work. At least human relationships take a lot work. And we don’t always do so well in that area. I’m always stubbing my toe or biting my tongue, or putting my foot in my mouth and I don’t think I do so well with God either.

At least I know that God will forgive me, humans find it much harder to forgive our slips of the tongue. I think the psalmist has the question right, “Who is this God, that he is even mindful of us humans?” We’re just a speck in the universe, actually less than a speck. Yet here we are and he loves us.

So shouldn’t we get to know our Creator? Shouldn’t we be in some kind of relationship with the one who redeems us?

We all know what we need to do. Now we just need to do it. We need to intentionally spend time with our God. As we do we will begin to know God in many different ways, in many different roles. God may be our Father, our Mother, our Counselor, our Confidante, our Advocate, our Friend, our Brother, our Sister, our Confessor, our…you fill in the blank.

The thing is in order to “know” God we have to begin to develop our relationships. It all begins with us. Our relationships with God won’t improve; we won’t know God any better unless we take the step. The sooner we make a start the sooner we will “know” more about our God. And it won’t seem like such a chore once we take that first step. That’s because God will be right there with us all the way from the very beginning as always.

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