Knowing God is the essential pursuit of life. Now is time for the Lord to take his rightful place in our affections and be the object of our investigations. Now is time for God’s people to be captivated by the Lord’s infinite character and glorious works. “I want to know Him,” needs to be the ambition which makes all other pursuits insignificant (Phil. 3:8-10).
It may seem strange to suggest that Christians need to consider Christ. Yet, religion has always been a respectable place to ignore God. We are constantly tempted to enthrone our own feelings and pursue our own pleasures. We end up with Christless churches filled to the brim with disciples of religious celebrities.
Is that off the mark? Just look what happens when a little “crisis” arises. We splinter in hundred directions! Why? Because we are more acquainted with our rights than God’s ways. A pursuit of the knowledge of God vaccinates us against the sickness of self-worship which lies under a thin veneer of religious justification.
I wonder, could our faith survive the transition the early church made from popularity to persecution (Acts 2-8)? Do we have the courage to share the gospel and start a church in new city (Acts 8:4; 11:19-26)? Do we have the love to yield our rights to live in fellowship with others (1 Cor. 8:1-13)? Do we have the humility to serve someone vastly different from ourselves (Acts 6:1-7)? Or do we simply find a place we feel comfortable?
The solution to this Christless Christianity is to know the Lord. This is much more than knowing doctrines, traditions, and institutions. It is to launch into the inexhaustible journey to discover the nature of God.
This is possible because God made himself known to us. He placed his signature on Creation. He recorded his deeds and values in the Scripture. Ultimately, he modeled his ways in Jesus, “the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). God wants us to know Him! So, he says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
To do this requires a reorientation of our reading of Scripture. The primary purpose of revelation is not human happiness or church policy, it is to know God (Ex. 20:1; John 1:18; 5:39; et al.)! His glory engulfs each story. His power is to be praised. His character is to be embraced.
This focus spills over into our hymns, prayers and preaching where we speak more of God than self! We do this until we recognize God is on his throne and we are on our knees. Only then will we be rightly directed by what he says and reflect who he is.
Jesus prayed, “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Human movements often devolve from noble ideals into an arrogant struggle between personalities. The history of religion is no different. But rescue comes when we turn our eyes upward with a singular passion to know the Lord. This is the time to know Him!
“Let all you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
At the base of Mount Sinai Israel thought they knew God. To them, God looked like a golden calf who was worshipped with bodily comfort, pleasure, and riches (Exodus 32). By the end of the day 3,000 died because their knowledge of God was corrupted. We laugh at their foolishness and sneer at their rebellion, but do we also mix our knowledge of God with tradition and cultural expectations?
Israel made their “god” out of gold and fashioned him with the glory of their talent and worshipped him with the pleasures of their flesh.
But Moses took different approach. He asked the Lord, “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). What Moses wanted more than personal charisma and admiration from his peers was to know God. He was richly rewarded.
5 The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-7)
Moses saw something more glorious than gold. He came to know God! The result “Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped” (Exodus 34:8). Israel worshiped the god of their own making and “rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). Moses learned about the God of glory, and he “bowed down to worship.” The knowledge of God was so enlivening he continued to serve the suborn people of God with a face that shined like the God he came to know.