Thursday, December 18, 2014

Knowing the God We've Forgotten

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers ... that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:16-19, emphasis added)

In today's society, the church is being increasingly compartmentalized into two groups: believers who "feel God" and ones who "know about God."  Sadly, as the dichotomy widens, both factions are pushed further and further apart to the point that both are extremes that often stray far from the Truth of Christianity.  In order to truly know God, however, it is crucial for us to find the truth in each of these viewpoints without swaying from scripture and so jeopardize a close walk with Christ.

The first view, "feeling" God, is mostly characterized by Evangelicals.  It began during the first Great Awakening, when dynamic preachers starkly contrasted the dull churches of the day.  These men gripped the emotions, but Christianity became consistently characterized by individual feeling and experience rather than true belief.  Doctrine was kicked to the curb as "spiritual experiences" took precedence.

Alternatively, as the Evangelical movement swept the country, some resisted by holding tighter to church organization, ordinance, and tradition.  While they preserved many sacred aspects of the faith and taught proper theology, they, much like the pharisees of Jesus's day, began to lose the fervor and zeal for the God they served.

And so it has continued to this day.  It is not difficult to notice that the Church of today has almost entirely embraced the Evangelical extreme.  As the philosophy of naturalism becomes much more common, belief in the Maker of the universe seems like fantasy.  Christianity has become therapeutic; "love," "faith," and emotional experience are the primary ideals of the Church, giving it a mystical feeling with little to no foundation in reality.

So what does this mean?  How does all of this help us to know God?  It's simple, really: we must regain the right perspective.  We can't develop a Christian worldview simply by having a "God experience."  Today, knowledge about God is second-priority - even shunned, but God wants us to know about Him!

But even more so, the Lord desires that we know Him.  This means that we not only feel His presence, but we diligently seek to understand who He is.  And yes, that requires studying His word.  It requires prayer.  It requires talking about Him with fellow believers.  It requires things that our "Just me and Jesus" society ignores.

I could really go on and on about this.  I invite you to continue the conversation in the comment section!  In the mean time, though, remember that merely knowing about God or feeling God is not enough.  We have to know God!