Knowing about God or knowing God is something I have been thinking about a lot so far this year. For my devotional book, I chose to reread an old book from my college days, “The Early Church” by Henry Chadwick. It is part of a series on church history. Tom looked at it and said it looked deadly dull. This from a person who can spend hours reading lists of provisions brought on ships to colonial Georgia.
I think the book is interesting because it draws the history of the early church from the resurrection of Jesus to Augustine. It covers the years from 33 AD to 430 AD which were an interesting time of moving from the apostolic age with Peter and Paul to Christianity becoming the state religion of the Roman Empire. Obviously this is fascinating reading and not at all dull as Tom thinks. It is not, however, good devotional reading.
The problem is that I can read the entire book and not be drawn any closer to God than I already am. I could memorize the book and know a lot of about God and about the early church but still not know God. In an effort to increase the depth of my knowing God, I have added reading some of the early church writings and a time of reflection to my morning devotions.
Many of us as Christians are better at knowing about God than we are at knowing God. You can spend every Sunday of your life in church but that doesn’t make you a Christian. Billy Sunday famously said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” (Billy Sunday, the Man and His Message). We can know lots about God without knowing Jesus Christ as a friend and savior.
Instead of knowing about God, we need to concentrate on knowing God and Jesus Christ. For me, prayer is the primary way to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ because it becomes a conversation between us. When I take time to listen in my prayers, Jesus lets me know what I’m doing well or what I am doing wrong. But it is only through spending time personally with Jesus that we can really get to know his heart and his desires for us.
I will keep reading my book on the early church, but I will be sure to balance that reading with conversation with the One who knows me best. Jesus knows every thought and action and he loves me whether I am good or bad or even indifferent. As I deepen my conversations with him and learn to love him better, I am knowing God instead of just knowing about God.