Now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Galatians 4:9
This is an incredibly powerful line from Paul. Now that you know God – or rather are known by God. In today’s internet world, where information can be found with a few taps on a keyboard, we like to think that we are knowledgeable, smart. We convince ourselves, that, because of science, we know almost everything there is to know and understand about our world. Some would argue that we even know enough to know that God doesn’t exist, and that belief in God is for the weak minded, and uninformed.
Then there are those in the church who are willing to stand up and tell you that they know everything there is to know about God and Jesus, and what you need to do for your salvation (including you writing that big check so that they can buy a bigger house).
But Paul tells us that we don’t know God….rather…we are known by God. Trying to put a being, who was capable of creating this incredibly glorious universe that we live in, into a box, that we are capable of understanding, or dissecting is either foolhardy at best or arrogance. What we know about God is what he has given us to know. What our human brains and hearts are capable of understanding. That he loves us.
Remember when you were a teenager? You wanted to show how adult you were by participating in conversations with adults. But often, looking back, you realize how simple, how black and white your views were – because you had only lived a small portion of your life. You had only experienced a fraction of what you have now. How much more nuanced are your views and options today? We are like teenagers in terms of our knowledge and understanding of God’s power and glory. But, just as we are constantly growing in our own understanding and wisdom as we take this journey through life, we can also grow in our understanding of God. It starts from a place of openness. Of not trying to understand, or seek proof. It starts with faith. Paul says it over and over again in his letters. By faith you are redeemed. Not by knowledge, not by good works…by faith. We need to get out of our own way. Get rid of our preconceptions, and what other people have told us about who and what God is, and let him show us himself. He knows YOU; who you really are with all of your faults and foibles, and he loves you perfectly and completely. Don’t you think you owe it to him to at least try to do the same? Don’t let someone else tell you who God is; find out for yourself.
I’ve included some quotes here from George MacDonald who also wrote on the topic.
“Men would understand; they do not care to obey. They try to understand where it is impossible they should understand except by obeying. They would search into the work of the Lord instead of doing their part in it – thus making it impossible for the Lord to go on with his work, and for themselves to become capable of seeing and understanding what he does…”
“…But the Lord is not unreasonable, he requires no perfection of motives where such could not yet exist. He does not say, “You must be sorry for your sins, or you need not come to me.” To be truly sorry for his sins a man must love God and man, and yet love is the very things that has to be developed in him. It is but common sense that if a man would be delivered from the suffering upon him or the evil within him, he must himself begin to cast it out. Equally it is common sense that a man should look for and expect the help of his Father in the endeavor. Alone he might labor to all eternity and not succeed. he who has not made himself cannot set himself right without him who made him. But his Maker is in him, and is his strength.”
“The man, however, who instead of doing what he is told, speculates on the metaphysics of him who calls him to his work, stands leaning against the door by which the Lord would enter to help him!”
I’ve also included a song here by Natalie Grant. I love the lyrics. So perfectly said.
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust