How Can You Know God Better? Part 4Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
In last week's reflections, we focused on how we can know God better, taking our lead from Ephesians 1:17. Today, I want to consider further the question: How can you know God better?
The first theological book I ever bought was Knowing God by J. I. Packer. I can still remember picking up this book from the shelf of the Logos Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Knowing God was about two years old then and came highly recommended by several college friends. I knew that the author of this book was a highly respected theologian and the author of a book that was on its way to becoming a bestseller. (It has now sold over a million copies in the United States alone!)
Back in 1975, you would say that I knew about J. I. Packer, but you'd hardly say that I knew him. Knowing someone implies something more personal. It suggests a two-way relationship. It involves knowing things about someone, but goes much farther than just gathering information.
In Knowing God, Packer explains that knowing God involves personal, relational knowledge, not just book knowledge, even if the book is the Bible. He writes, "Interest in theology, and knowledge about God, and the capacity to think clearly and talk well on Christian themes, is not at all the same thing as knowing him." Rather, "knowing God is a matter of personal dealing, as is all direct acquaintance with personal beings. Knowing God is more than knowing about him; it is a matter of dealing with him as he opens up to you, and being dealt with by him as he takes knowledge of you."
Knowing God contains plenty of theology because knowing God personally is based on God's self-revelation in Scripture and, most of all, in Jesus Christ. Yet, this book encourages us to go beyond knowing about God as we grow into a deeper, truer, and more intimate relationship with him.
Thirty-three years after first reading Knowing God, I had the privilege of meeting J. I. Packer. Since the mid-1960s, he has taught at Laity Lodge more than any other guest speaker. In 2008, I was honored to lead a retreat taught by Dr. Packer. Twice since then, I have been doubly honored to team up with him as his co-teacher at Laity Lodge. I can now say that I not only know about J. I. Packer. I know him, having shared many conversations over many meals. I know that, in addition to being a brilliant, influential theologian, he is also a person of broad interests and a delightful sense of humor.
Thirty-three years after first reading Knowing God, I pause to ask myself the following questions. Perhaps you might ponder them as well.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How well do I know God? Do I really know God, or have I been satisfied with knowledge about God? How does my knowledge about God help me to know God better in a personal way? What helps me to grow in my personal relationship with God?
PRAYER: Father of glory, again I thank you for making yourself known to me. Thank you for all the ways you have helped me to know you in truth. Thank you for all the times I have sensed that knowing you is a relationship, a two-way relationship. Thank you, dear Lord, that you want to know me!
Help me, I pray, not to be satisfied with knowing more about you. Rather, may my deeper grasp of the truth lead me to know you more deeply. Amen.
We have just entered the Christian season of Advent. If you would like to celebrate Advent, you might find the following resources helpful:
Introduction to Advent available on my blog.
Introduction to the Christian Year available on my blog.
My e-book, Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.