Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Is it really possible to know God? That’s a question we each need to ask—in fact it probably is the most important question we will ever ask ourselves.
Some people respond to that by saying, I go to church most Sundays, or at least at Easter and Christmas. But that’s not really answering the question. You can attend church on Sunday and never meet with God. I’ve also heard people say, I know God in my own way and nobody is going to tell me anything about God I don’t already know. Perhaps they went to Sunday School or a church school, and feel they have enough knowledge of God not to be too worried.
But would you go back to your doctor and say, I know the practice of medicine in my own way and nobody is going to tell me anything about medicine that I don’t already know. I think that would be unwise unless you’ve been to medical school. So it is with knowing about God. We need to open our minds and hearts and be aware of what is around us.
The Most Worthy Pursuit
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, he was in prison and was facing a very bleak future. Then he said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for God’s good” (Philippians 2:12-13). He did not intend this as a licence to do whatever we please, but to actively engage in a life-long process of learning about God and what he wants from us. After all, is there anything more important than this?
I also like what Paul said in Romans 12:2, which in one translation says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God” (The Message). It was St Augustine who said that everyone has a God-shaped vacuum in their lives. But something went wrong—and that is called sin. In Genesis 3 we have a picture of Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden in the cool of the day, but they were hiding from God. Because of sin, they hid from God and fellowship with him was no longer desirable.
And we have been hiding from him ever since. Some of us believe that by acquiring possessions, we will be happier or have more pleasure in life, or that prestige and power will help fill the hole. But I still maintain that knowing God is the most worthy pursuit of your entire life. There is no more worthy goal.
Think again of the Apostle Paul. His life was totally transformed after meeting Jesus on the Damascus Road. Paul, or Saul as he was first known, did everything right according to the religious laws. He was born to a good family and was a religious expert. He was a Pharisee, and one of the requirements to be a Pharisee was that you had to learn the first five books of the Bible. You could say Paul was a religious fanatic. He was the best—he was zealous for the law and traditions of the Jews.
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A Personal Relationship
So, how could he do a complete turnaround and say, “But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ’s sake” (Philippians 3:7 GNT). Then he says, “Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere garbage, so that I may gain Christ” (verse 8).
So what was Paul doing here? He was sweeping all his credentials and successes off the table and into the garbage can. All his accomplishments were nothing compared with knowing God through Jesus Christ. That’s why I said earlier that knowing God is more than religion. It’s more than just having some emotional, religious experience. Paul regarded his religiosity as garbage. You can go to church and sing in the choir and yet not know God. You can have the theology you want and even become a religious fanatic, and not know God personally.
Paul gave up everything: his family, his friends and his freedom, in order to know Jesus Christ. Instead he said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14-NIV). He had entered into an intimate, personal and thrilling relationship with God through Jesus. He learned contentment and purpose for each day.
Do you want to know God? Look to Jesus and accept him into your life. Then you can say with Paul, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39 – NIV).