We will continue with our current topic this month of exploring who God is and what He has allowed us to know about Him. Today I want to pick up on a point that I have also covered in the message of the month. It is about the problems that we find in the Western World today in regard to truly knowing God.
When talking with the woman at the well Jesus said,
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
Sadly, this does not fit well with our Western mindset of logic, doctrine and dogma. All these attributes are God-given and have a purpose but left on their own, they exclude an important aspect of the Christian journey. Herein lies the reason the Western world has produced so many atheists (I used to be one of them). We have an aversion for any “experiential” knowledge. As a result, we choose to live in the world of reason. Although few realise it, this places reason above God in our lives – in fact it actually makes reason our God. The Scriptures deny this – Jesus explains that obedience comes before understanding or reason (John 7:17).
Now it is true that there are dangers with experiential knowledge – it can sometimes be just a figment of someone’s imagination, rather than something inspired by God. As a reaction to this many have restricted themselves to that which can only be understood by the rational mind. Unfortunately, this reaction closes off a channel that God frequently uses to express Himself to us personally.
These two responses have resulted in creating two groups – those who have thrown the baby out with the bathwater and those who have drowned in this very bathwater. Neither are helpful in drawing us closer to God.
If we are prepared to allow ourselves to be led into awe and wonder, we will have many godly encounters that will bring a supernatural realm to life in our lives. Such encounters will stay in the realm of mystery, which means we cannot control it or harness them – something we in the Western world don’t like. But they will certainly be life giving and life changing.
So, if we are looking to relate to God in the maximum number of ways possible, we should be looking to add to our regular study of His Word, worship and prayer, fellowship with our brothers and sisters – the joy of having a personal, experiential relationship with Him.
What does this look like? Well it is impossible to do an exhaustive list but here are a few things that most people do experience when seeking such a relationship with Him.
- You become acutely aware of God’s presence often experienced in an overwhelming sense of peace, gratitude, love or awe.
- You discover an answer to something that you have really been seeking.
- You have an overwhelming compassion for someone suffering.
- You are able to accomplish something well beyond your own abilities or knowledge.
- Another person, knowing nothing of your situation commits an act of love, generosity or provision during a real time of need.
- You have a word of wisdom, knowledge or insight to someone with no prior knowledge – or someone has this for you.
- What we like to call a “suddenly” of God, where He breaks in and brings a solution or most welcome change of circumstance in a desperate time of need.
I encourage you to seek these experiences and also build your own list and share them with others. It is these very things that keep our relationship with God fresh, alive and always full of hope. He longs to delight us with His presence in this way.
Writing about this Stephen Charnok says,
The secret touches of God upon the heart, and inward conversations with Him, are a greater evidence of the existence of a supreme and infinitely good Being, than all of nature.
God bless you,