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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

The Ultimate Knowing

Updated: Sep 9, 2023


Speak to Him thou for He hears,

and Spirit with Spirit can meet—

Closer is He than breathing,

and nearer than hands and feet.”

~ Alfred Tennyson



The week before last, a well-loved person in our lives passed away. He left a gaping hole where he had been, an integral part of our community. Though I’d had many interactions with this kind, caring, generous-hearted, humanity-loving, encouraging person, the more I heard other people share things about him, the more I realized how little I’d known him, though I’d “known” him for over twelve years.


What does it really mean to know someone?


If I did my very best to describe a good friend to you, would you then intimately know that person based on my description? What if I talked about this friend constantly? Then would you truly know that person? If I introduced you to this friend, would that be enough? What if you then began to also spend hours, days, years, and a lifetime hanging out with my friend? Would this be sufficient for you to then say that you know this person?


Even after a lifetime of “knowing” a person, do we ever completely comprehend him or her? What is knowing?


There is so much more involved than just “head knowledge.” How do our own motivations, perceptions of the world, attitudes, and approaches affect what we “know” about others—even what we “know” about ourselves? How do our own choices affect who or what we even want to know? And so on...


We are told by people who have gone before us, there is One who knows each one of us—even better than we know ourselves; and that the better we know Him and His heart, the better we will know others and ourselves.[1]


Can this Being—who is also the God of the universe, who cannot even be described in human terms—be known by us? Who can fathom this Being who is eternal, all-knowing, the source of wisdom, all-powerful, self-existent, the heart of goodness, everywhere present, yet outside of and separate from His material creation, including us human beings?


What do you think? If this Being were to reveal Himself to humankind, how could He do it?


Could He express something of Himself through the stars or a bird or a flower? How about through a science book explaining some part of the order, intricacy, and interconnectedness in His creation? Or could He impart an idea or thought at just the right moment—following a heartfelt prayer? Could He share elements of Himself through the beauty of a waterfall, a sunset, or the smile of a baby? Or maybe through a moving song or story; could He cause a resonance with Him to be felt in the very core of one’s being?


Would it be unreasonable of Him to speak to us through angels and prophets; priests and poets; symbols or types in temples and feast days; or through examples embedded and repeated in the world’s history of good and evil, blessing and woe?


Would it be rash of Him to make promises that are humanly impossible? And then, fulfill them? Just so we would know He is there for us?


When Jesus was on earth, He made an outstanding claim to His disciples—and to all future followers—in respect to knowing this Being, God, whom He called Father. He told them—and us:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.

...Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father...

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me...On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

(John 14:6-7, 15-20)


The apostle Paul also bore witness about Jesus and knowing God:

The Son [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God...

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

For this reason...we continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

(Col. 1:15a, 19-20, 9-14)


Was and is Jesus Christ the only perfect human revelation of God, Himself? Was and is He the Way to God? To truth? To life? Has God somehow provided through Him a way that His Presence might be with each one of us, so His Spirit might indwell us—and speak a direct knowing of Him and His will into the human mind, heart, and soul?


Is it? Will it be? as Isaiah prophesied:

A shoot [Descendant] will come up from the stump [lineage] of Jesse [the father of King David];

from his roots a Branch [Christ] will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,

the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,

or decide by what he hears with his ears;

but with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,

and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:1-9.

And:

He will be the sure foundation for your times,

a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;

the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” (Isa. 33:6).


Is Jesus Christ the Song God has been singing to us all along? Is He the Key to unlocking the best and truest version of our personal, community, and national story because of the knowledge of God that comes through Him by His Spirit in, among, and with us?


With consideration, it appears that this Being, the Lord, God of the Hebrews, has been reaching out to us, revealing as much as we’re willing to take in about Him and about us—humankind—individually and as a whole.


It is my prayer for all of us during this Christmas season—and always—that the richness and glorious beauty of God’s Presence might be known if not felt by each one of us. That each one of us might receive the gift, the grace, of a true and growing knowledge of God through Jesus (Savior) Christ (Anointed One), Immanuel (God with us) by the Spirit that He gives, through His blood and body given on our behalf, for the forgiveness of our sins, through His righteousness before God.


“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).


 

[1] “No one has to teach God's people to know God.” ― Henry Hon, ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose from House to House “It [knowing God] is the most practical project anyone can engage in. Knowing about God is crucially important for living our lives... “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through this life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you.” “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord. “What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it - the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind.” ― J. I. Packer “I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap, in mercy, He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose fingers' ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, smell His garments, and smile into my Lover's eyes, ah, then, not stars, nor children, shall matter--only Himself.” ― Jim Elliot, The Journals of Jim Elliot “Let me know you, Lord, then I shall know myself more. “Let me know you, O you who know me; then shall I know even as I am known... “But the abyss of the human conscience lies naked to your eyes, O Lord, so would anything be secret even if I were unwilling to confess to you? I would be hiding you from myself, but not myself from you. But now that my groans bear witness that I find no pleasure in myself, you shed light upon me and give me joy, you offer yourself, lovable and longed for, that I may thrust myself away in disgust and choose you, and be pleasing no more either to you or to myself except in what I have from you. “..No-one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him. And though in your sight I may despise myself and reckon myself dust and ashes, I know something about you which I do not know about myself.” - St. Augustine, Confessions. Ps. 139 ­– King David

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