March 19, 2018 • Life for Leaders
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Do you know God? If so, how? On the basis of what would you say that you know God?
Our world suggests many different paths to knowing God better. Of course, there is a growing chorus these days that says knowing God is impossible or silly. But the vast majority of people still believe we can and should know God. And many of these people are happy to tell you how.
Some gurus would encourage us to look within ourselves because God is fully present there. Self-examination is the key to knowing God. Others would urge us to look far and wide at the world’s religions, picking and choosing that which we want to believe about God from a wide array of options. Others would claim that the only way to know God is through intellectual inquiry. Philosophy is the only reliable path to the knowledge of God. Still others would tell you that the only clear path to knowing God is paying attention to your feelings. Your emotions will reveal God to you if you feel them strongly and trust them confidently.
What all of these ways of knowing God have in common is an assumption that you can know God on the basis of yourself: your experience, your effort, your wisdom, your reason, your feelings. If you want to know God better, you can make it happen.
Ephesians 1:17 disagrees. That comes as no surprise if you know the Bible. The whole Scripture bears witness to the fact that knowing God is not something you can do on your own. Rather, it depends on God. You can know God truly only if God chooses to make himself known to you. The good news of the Bible is that God has already revealed himself in profound ways: in creation, in history, in his people, in Scripture, and most of all in Jesus Christ. Moreover, God has given us his Spirit and placed us in the community of his people so that we might know God deeply, accurately, and intimately.
Thus, if you want to know God better, don’t start by looking into yourself or choosing from the buffet line of world religions or hiding away in the library reading philosophy or getting in touch with your feelings. Rather, pay attention to how God has revealed himself. And then, join the Apostle Paul in asking God to give you wisdom and revelation through the Spirit.
I’ll have more to say about how we can know God better in next week’s devotions. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following questions.
Something to Think About:
In what ways do you know God? How has God made himself known to you in your life?
Do you want to know God better?
What are you prepared to do in order to know God more intimately and truly?
What are you prepared not to do in order to know God more intimately and truly?
Something to Do:
Take time to reflect on the various ways God has made himself known to you. Give thanks for these gifts. If you’re in a small group, share what you’ve found with others.
Gracious God, thank you for making yourself known to us. Thank you for not leaving us on our own, forced to figure out who you are through our own efforts. Thank you for revealing yourself in creation, in history, in your people, in Scripture, and in Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh.
Help me, Lord, to grow in my knowledge of you. Make yourself known to me more clearly and truly through your Spirit. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 5
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Thank you for today’s devotion. I found it very timely as I am interacting with those close to me caught up in the new age spirituality of finding the Devine within ourselves. Richard A. @OneWalk
You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment, Richard.
I’m actually a proponent of the study of world scripture. This is not to say that I am in support of cherry-picking what “feel good” as much as finding common ground in understanding. Jesus, when He came, didn’t just come to preach the old truths, but to bring new life and bring all things to unity, as Ephesians state, as you have pointed out previously. God has been planting the seeds of Truth throughout the world, and it’s amazing how we actually agree much more deeply than we think from our narrow understanding. My point is that if we let the Spirit guide our study rather than our feelings, it can bring us to an even deeper understanding of God through our hearts, and not just our intellect or emotions.