Monday, August 22, 2005

To know, know, know him

I heard a wonderful talk yesterday about knowing God -- not "knowledge" in the sense of being acquainted and familiar enough to appreciate and accept, but knowledge in the sense that Adam knew Eve his wife and that God knows us.

Being known by God is far more than being in His awareness. He not only knows what we do, think, believe and feel. He surrounds us, loves us, draws us in, gazes on us, pours goodwill into us, knows us. Are we willing to allow him to make Himself known to us in that same way?

In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul prays for the Christians there. He's not exhorting them to faithfulness in duties nor adherence to theological beliefs. Instead, he prays,
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (Eph. 1:17-19)

What Paul lovingly desires for his brothers and sisters in Ephesus is that they individually and together know God better. It's not enlightenment of their minds here, but their hearts, which will bring to them the depth of hope and participation in the riches and power that the Holy Spirit wants to give them.

In my experience, Catholics and Protestants have different blind spots in this area. My Protestant friends tend to individualize messages like these and apply them (validly but incompletely) to the individual's relationship with God. They may miss the power of the sacramental and corporate blessings God intends for the Church collectively as his Bride. Catholics, on the other hand, frequently jump first to the application that it is the Church -- God's people as a whole -- with whom the Holy Spirit does business. It's not untrue but again incomplete. It can be a way of emotionally keeping the power, devotion and yearning of God for each of us at a more comfortable distance, causing us to miss out.

It's clear through the entirety of scripture and sacred tradition that God wants each and all together. He will bless his people as a body, if only because that is the way he chose to manifest himself on earth after his death, resurrection and ascension. But he in love with people, persons, men, women, kids, individuals. If each of us isn't stepping up to ask for and receive more knowledge of him and more experience of his huge love for us, we are missing out bigtime.

May we all know him better.




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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009