Do we know God?
It seems like an obvious question with an equally obvious answer, but as I begin to reflect on my own life I am forced to genuinely ask what it means to “know God.”
I believe that I “know Him” because I grew up that way or I follow the “Christian rules;” I don’t cuss, I don’t drink, I’m careful about what I watch on Netflix. Is that how I know that I know God? Our culture seems to have embraced this idea that Christianity, at its very core, is defined by a Christian’s external actions.
Jesus says in John 14:23-24, “All who love me will do what I say,” and I personally wonder if we have focused on the doing and have missed out on the first part. We are so eager to obey because obedience is measurable and tangible. Obedience is easy, it allows us to check off boxes; “Did I do my Growth Journal?” “Did I pray before I ate dinner?” “Did I say ‘God bless you’ when someone sneezed?”
But Jesus wasn’t about obedience without love.
As I examine John 14 I’m asking this question for my own life, “Do I love Jesus?” In order to love someone we must know them. With God, that involves daily interaction with Him, daily worship towards Him for who He is, daily recognition that we don’t have what we need, even to take our next breath, unless God allows it to be so. It is so easy to get caught up in school or work or the insanity of our daily lives and forget the real reason we even exist: to know God. Make no mistake, He already knows us inside and out, but if we are going to do more than live our lives we must know God.
One of the reasons I got into youth ministry is because teenagers still have a sense of that mystery and wonder of who God is. As we grow into adulthood we carry with us our many experiences of loss and disenchantment towards life, and this affects how we believe in, and how we trust God. But teens have a rawness about them, and a rawness to the way they look at their lives. This rawness allows them to know God without the distractions of past hurts. But the only way that rawness is going to translate to a real intimate relationship with God is if they are constantly encountering God and His presence.
As parents our job is to model that for our kids. The great part with God is that it doesn’t have to be all at once. We don’t have to go from being distant with God to diving into the infinite love that He is (although that is still a good option). Rather we can take a step, moving one tiny bit towards knowing God more today.
Maybe that means putting on a worship album instead of your “usual” mix. Maybe it means pausing for a moment at the sight of a sunset. Maybe it means taking 15 seconds before you pray and acknowledging God, the One you are addressing.
As a parent and pastor, I have started doing these things and I feel like I know God just a little bit better (even as I write this).
God knows me, He wants me to know Him and love Him and then obey Him. Don’t just check off boxes, really know Him. For the sake of our walks with God, and as examples of our teenagers “rawness,” let’s know Him.