What we don’t know, we often fear.
If I hadn’t known who lived behind this door, I never would have knocked (not that I fit into any of the categories, mind you).
But because I did know the man—and knew him to be kind to me—I knew it was safe.
How much do we know about God?
- Are we afraid of him because of what we don’t know?
- Or because of what we think we do know?
- Has he been kind to us?
- Is he safe?
This is week 1 in reading J.I. Packer’s classic book, Knowing God.
A group is gathering at Tim Challies’ blog for the next several Thursdays. Today we discuss chapter 1, “The Study of God,” and chapter 2, “The People Who Know Their God.”
Packer immediately confronts us—and rightly so—with why do we want to study God? In the Foreword he writes:
“Ignorance of God—ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with him—lies at the root of much of the church’s weakness today.”
So, if ignorance promotes weakness, then knowledge can develop strength.
Strength to do what?
Packer says knowledge for its own sake “is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited.”
Instead, more knowledge about God is meant to turn into more knowledge of God (i.e., knowing God).
For me, that translates to this:
Knowing God more, leads to loving God more.
And loving God more, leads to loving others more, too.
That’s the kind of strength I want. Strength of purpose to live a life of love.
In chapter 2, “The People who Know Their God,” Packer summarizes these four benefits of knowing God:
- Those who know God have great energy for God.
- Those who know God have great thoughts of God.
- Those who know God show great boldness for God.
- Those who know God have great contentment in God.
But how do we come to know God better?
One way is, of course, through the Bible. But the Bible alone isn’t enough.
We can read about a person all day long in a book, but unless we’ve interacted with them, how much do we really know them?
We all have friends (or ourselves) who are overflowing with Bible facts and lofty academic explanations of theological doctrines. “All very fine—yet 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.”
How we treat our families at home, or how we talk about our friends when they’re not around, or how we talk to God (or not) in private is often more revealing about our relationship with God than how many Bible verses we can quote. (Preaching to self.)
Packer suggests thus we recognize our lack of knowledge of God and ask the Lord to show us more.
Seek the Savior’s company.
Then we can “turn each truth that we learn ABOUT God into matter for meditation BEFORE God, leading to prayer and praise TO God.”
* * *
How do you get to know a fellow human? Do any of those strategies work with getting to know God? Let’s talk in the comments.
It’s not too late to grab a copy of Knowing God and read along with us.
Chapter 3, “Knowing and Being Known”
Chapter 4, “The Only True God”
- There is power in a place
- 8 reasons why . . .