Can we know the God of the universe? Can we really know him, intimately, as we do our spouses, our parents, our closest friends? According to scripture, we can and God calls us to do just that. We are told that he has shown himself to us.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” Romans 1:20
There are two distinct ways that we can truly know God. They can also be referred to as the 1st and 2nd tables of law.
1. Our duty to God.
2. Our duty to our fellow man.
Our duty to God directly relates to our knowledge of God. We learn in scripture that to fulfill that duty, we are to obey his commands. 1 John 2:3 tells us that “by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” (ESV) Through obeying God, we find freedom in the knowledge of him. The commands aren’t just an out of date ritual to be followed because you have to. In fact, it is said in Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” It wasn’t the act of sacrifice that God wanted. Yes, he did command sacrifices for the sins committed, but what he was looking for was not the ritual but the right heart. He was looking for devotion and desire to be close to him. Rituals without the right heart are simply empty actions that mean nothing.
“With what shill I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with then thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, o man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8
The send part of knowing God is through our duty to our fellow man. Jeremiah sums it up beautifully when he was speaking about Josiah’s rulership.
“He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me? declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 22:16
We can obey the commands, but we will be missing a large part of those commands if we ignore one another. When we look down on others because they can’t afford the best clothes, or if we scoff at the man on the side of the road looking for money, we are doing that very action toward God. There are a lot of people that have had tough situations that brought them to where they are today. Some are homeless by choice and their own stubborness, but the majority are there by bad circumstances. Even if some of those were brought on by their own bad decisions, we are to have mercy, not judgement. We are to extend love, not condemnation.
Christians have become so focused on the terrible morality of the world, that we have been overlooking the needs in our own neighborhoods. We focus on the visionary political scene (insert staunch Conservative here) and have divided even our political parties as those of big businesses and those for the poor (but wouldn’t dare do anything about it, but talk plenty about it and push for money rather than resources and time that is needed to address the situation properly rather than putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound.) We need to see beyond ourselves and just offer love. We aren’t able to fix the problem; only God can do that and will at the second coming. But we can do something. Anything. If even to only pray that God will open our eyes to see beyond ourselves. You see, because only then can we truly know the God of the universe.