Knowing God Means Knowing Yourself
In this article, we will put forth the reality that knowing God better means knowing yourself.
Knowing God Basic Theology
Unlike other posts, this article will be ‘wisdom heavy’ and scripture light. This is not to suggest these are mutually exclusive. However, there are basic ideas which need conveying according to the search term which brought you here.
I must assume that you desire to understand the basics of knowing the Lord God. Although I would never suggest, as a Pastor, scripture is less important, it is best to begin with prayer.
Again, not that those two (2) are mutually exclusive either! In a church full of lifeless people, to know God breathes life back into that which is otherwise dead.
Later, I will reveal several macro ideas to assist you in getting to know God better. The overarching reason for this section, however, is to address the outrage more professed “brilliant theological minds” are surely experiencing reading the post title.
For them, I present a basic apologetics case, and then move on to what really matters.
It is impossible to know God without truly knowing yourself and here is why. In Genesis chapter 2, God said: “let us make man in our own image and after our own likeness.”
This suggests, on many levels, we are “like” God. This is not to assign "equality" rather affirm some form of commonality exists. Since you, Theologian, are more brilliant than I, it is not necessary for me to present the micro biblical case for that posit, right?
I digress. Prior to this sin (Genesis 3), God indicated we were “like” Him.
An example is the relationship between my daughter and grand-daughter. When I look at my granddaughter, I see a strong resemblance to my daughter.
That is her mother, so it stands to reason there is a “likeness.” If my grand daughter never saw her mother, she would never affirm the resemblance.
Sure, she would know she had a mother and even others declaring how much she resembles her. However, that personal relationship and comparison would be absent and therefore, my grand-daughter’s personal identity is somewhat incomplete.
Having personally grown up in "foster-care", trust me on the soundness of that statement. If I do not have foundationally knowledge of my origins, then I do not truly know myself completely.
It is not possible to have a "shaky" foundation yet the structure built on that foundation be solid (whole).
More plainly: my grand-daughter could never fully know herself if she is not personally familiar with her mother. This is the root cause of criminal behavior (largely) originating in single parent households - missing identity (guidance).
Next, we can only know ourselves fully when in addition to our physical appearance, we are completed by spiritual awareness. The Bible says: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth.”
If, as Genesis chapter 2 says, we were created in “God’s own image and after his own likeness”, we are spiritual beings as well. “Tainted by sin” surely, but spiritual beings none-the-less.
Without this spiritual connection, we cannot know God at all. I say “know” in an intimate sense of the word. There is a difference between “knowing of” (someone) and “knowing” them intimately.
Therefore, and for my theological brethren, if I am created in God’s own image and after his own likeness, it must mean that to know Him is to also know myself. Without this connection, it is not possible to either know Him nor myself.
Without this connection, we would literally be, as an old 80s song said: “Eyes Without a Face.”
Knowing God Means Loving Him
The way to know God is to love Him — and that begins with getting acquainted with the divine. To do so, you need a closer relationship with God which takes time.
As a Pastor, I know hypocrites who sit in church week after week, and do not love the Lord. I can hear the weeping and accusations now: “you don’t know someone’s heart.”
Yes, I do, and whether you like it or not, your heart is revealed in such a clearly error prone statement. Jesus actually told us to examine others and ourselves!
Here is wisdom – in the Kingdom of God, a person’s “heart” can be known by “what they do not do” as much as "what they do.”
I could put together the biblical case that it is what a Christian doesn’t do that defines who they are. That is something which bears, at least, a brief explanation.
Christians do not follow Jesus because we have not or will not do bad things. The Bible tells us "there is no one living who has no sin." We follow Jesus because we do bad things and need a way to heal from them.
For someone to sit in a church week after week, month after month, and year after year and not change reveals their heart. Far be it for me to suggest people should all act the same. God forbid!
However, it is impossible to have an encounter with Jesus Christ and not demonstrate some form of growth.
The phrase ‘knowing God’ implies an intimate, personal connection between a person and the divine. However, most people only associate this concept with formal religious practices rather than their daily life.
For these reasons, it’s essential you learn how to become more intimate with Him. Closeness means He must be more than just a passing interest and become something of an obsession.
The question becomes: “what must I do in order to get to such a place?” Again, Jesus showed us the way: “seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.”
Getting Close to God Through Devotions
After you receive salvation, and baptism, it is time to begin the growing process. Just like anything else, but more importantly than anything else, the Christian life is a developmental process.
Here is a warning: if at all possible, stay away from church business meetings until you are mature in the faith. Although I will not say why, this advice is crucial to your spiritual health.
Nevertheless, devotionals are brief writings from various followers of Jesus Christ that are meant to inspire and encourage. These resources can provide insight on a variety of topics.
You can create your own written devotionals as well. You do not need to understand scripture backward and forward either.
Devotionals are based on simply pouring your heart out to God. There is a book in the Bible which demonstrates this premise. It is called The book of Psalms, and it was written by King David.
Further, devotionals are meant to complement your scripture study and provide inspiration. Explore what these messages mean to you, personally, even if you are more comfortable reading the writings of others.
There is No Higher Call Than Love
One of the best ways to get closer to God is to take small steps toward loving Him more.
In fact, loving God is the most important goal in life. Loving God is essential for a happy, fulfilled life.
To do so, we must do the things He loves. Believe it or not, this should begin with loving yourself.
There is no biblical prohibition against loving yourself. As a matter of fact, Jesus commanded us to: “love others as ourselves.” It is also crucial to think the thoughts He thinks, and to live how His thoughts direct us to.
You will have many questions in this faith journey. That is okay, and despite what you’ve heard, it is a good thing to ask God questions. God is personal, wants to hear from you, even if He knows what you are going to ask.
The Importance of Bible Study
Bible study is a powerful way to get closer to God because it helps you form a relationship on a deeper, more meaningful level. When you study, you’re exploring life and God’s expectations.
It’s also an opportunity to get to know the character and teachings of the Almighty. Studying the Bible can help you understand more about your own faith and relationships with others.
It can further assist in understanding science and other topics that are often misunderstood. For instance, is it true that God created the Earth, out of nothing, in six (6) days?
Yes, He created Earth in six (6) days but NO, it wasn't "out of nothing." A brief Bible study in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, will demonstrate that at least two things were present when God began creating: darkness and water.
I bring this forward because there seems to be arguments between science and theology with respect to the age of the earth. In your early biblical studies, don’t get caught up in those debates.
What is important is to focus on spiritual growth, and how that leads to maturity. It is during this maturity stage that you will be able to dig into the deeper questions.
When you study, you’re reading about people who lived thousands of years ago and quite literally changed human history.
On a side note, there is a great discovery I made when first studying scripture. Great biblical figures such as Job, Paul, and Abraham had the SAME life struggles as you and I!
This is important because too often, great people in the Bible are held up as much more than they were. For instance, I have no doubt you have heard of the great faith of Job.
The reality is, however, that by Job chapter 38, he was struggling in faith as well.
So great was Job's faith struggle, that God stopped him from speaking! The great father Abraham was a known liar during his interactions with the Egyptians as well.
He was afraid the Egyptians would steal his beautiful wife, Sarah, so he told her to lie about their relationship.
Need I go further?
The point is, Bible study will assist in getting closer to God by revealing that he uses flawed people just like you to do great things.
When searching for a safe Bible Study space, however, be warned: “everything that glitters is not gold.”
In the spiritual sense, do not run out to the first church you find to join a Bible Study. Finding a nearby church on Google could be the worst spiritual decision you will ever make!
So what if they have "5 Star" reviews!
I know churches that people "swear by" yet are led by the most incompetent and dangerous Bible teachers around!
This is where prayer and connecting with God comes in handy! If you ask Him, He will reveal the best place to begin your Bible Study experience.
Knowing God Means Observing Some Traditions
Many faith traditions have a rich history. Some (emphasis on "some") can help better appreciate our faith while others have no value.
There are Christian preachers who rail against “tradition.” I know some, and 99.9% of the time, this is nothing more than a gimmick to attract otherwise non-religious people.
One local pastor railed against “church traditions” for eighteen (18) years straight. All he received for his effort was a thinned out congregation. Further, he would eventually step aside in favor of a much younger Pastor.
Let me be clear: when confronting valueless traditions, the congregation will get thin. This is a reward for righteousness! However, doing so just to do so will needlessly stumbles people .
Anyone who knows me and my Pastorate, understands my approach places very little value of tradition. However, this doesn't mean it has no value in certain circumstances.
The Apostle Paul said (1st Cor. 9:19-23):
Traditions are a beautiful thing, as long as they do not keep you from truly experiencing God.
One such activity is known as communion. This is an observance commanded by Jesus Christ at the so-called “Last Supper.” This tradition is simple, elegant, and Jesus said we should do it in remembrance of Him.
There are also traditions in church which, although not exclusively commanded in scripture, are pleasing to God. An example of this is "when" we have worship service, Bible study, and other fellowship experiences.
We can dig into the "Sabbath" day debate however, the early church gathered on the first day of the week to hear the preaching.
Contextually, this does not necessarily mean, as we do today, having church service on Sunday morning.
It is more likely "early on the first day" (Book of Acts), from a Hebrew perspective, meant late Saturday evening (Greco-western calendar).
Assisting Other Deepens Our Discernment
Another wonderful way to get closer to God is to engage in acts of love towards others. Helping others can help you grow spiritually because it put your faith into action.
Let me be clear: helping others is not to be done because of that “warm and fuzzy” feeling after having done so. Even those who do not know God do the same.
More importantly, we do not work to be closer to God - we help others because we are closer to Him. Helping others is not the catalyst to "faith" it is the "result" (if that makes sense).
Further, when you help others, you’re demonstrating the teachings of Christ. There were very few times, during Jesus’s ministry, when He was not serving others.
That beloved, is the entire point! Helping others, in their hour of need, deepens your discernment of recognition. More plainly, the more you intentionally practice recognizing needs and fulfilling the same, the sharper your discernment will become.
There’s a certain way God designed you to first discern, and then address the needs of others. For instance, God did not design me as a: “touchy-feely” type of preacher. He gave me the gift of directness, confrontation, and outspokenness.
Touchy-feely people often are more concerned with how people feel rather than the need to speak truth. I’m not saying God designed people to lie. God forbid!
I am saying, however, different people have different gifts. Each is to use that gift to edify the church in whatever way God created them to.
Knowing God means knowing yourself. This is not to suggest that you should be the beginning point to know God. Quite the opposite is true.
However, there is a nexus point between who He is and who you are. Each section in this post should be reviewed within the matrix of how this builds your faith walk. By so building, the fruit (result) will be a closer relationship with the Lord God.
What they fail to always remember that God said we were created in his own image and after his own likeness.
Yes, sin separated us from God. Yet, and because we are so created, He came to bring us back to Himself through Jesus Christ.
Header Image Courtesy of Barbara Jackson @ Pixabay