Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, October 6, 2019
Knowing God is the chief good of a human being and the overriding purpose for humans being on planet earth. The Shorter Westminster Confession of Faith asks the question: “What is the chief end of man?” and it answers, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This runs so much against what we often take as our chief goal. We are focused on other things: freedom, marriage, bringing up good children, succeeding, getting ahead, making life work, accumulating wealth etc… Whereas all these or at least some of them are legitimate pursuits, none of them is the chief reason for our existence.
What does it mean to know God? Is it going to church, or helping the poor, or being a good person? Surely these cannot be what constitutes knowing God for we know, for example, many folks who are frequently present in church but are not the best kinds of people to associate with. There are many who ascribe to the atheist religion and who help the poor and don’t know God. If anything, they deny his existence, sometimes very loudly and often antagonistically. And about being good, what does it mean to be good? We might hold to the old and tired idea that only those who murder people or rob banks are the bad people, and we who don’t do such things are the good ones. Well, the Bible says that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. And our own souls testify to us that we are not perfect. I am yet to find a person who asserted to be. We all fall short.
Such misunderstanding of what constitutes knowing God comes out of gross ignorance of God which is so common in the church today. Believers are content to live with a vague and hazy familiarity with the great Divine Person and yet continue faithfully to play at being a Christian without clear clarity in regard to really knowing God. They don’t miss a single church service. They enjoy being at church. They can’t imagine not going to church. They like the people. They like the liturgy. They like the music. They like it all. But, ask them about knowing God, they cannot quite answer that one. Church then turns into some kind of nice club where people go to socialize, and speak niceties to each other, and drink coffee together or eat good food, much like the Lion’s Club, and then go home and wait for the next time. That’s a grave mistake.
God created us to know him. Moreover, knowing God is the only way to personal holiness. And God has taken steps to reveal himself to us so that we might know him. He has revealed himself in nature. Look at the beauty of nature, the flowers, the vegetation, the mountains, the rivers, and lakes, and oceans. So beautiful. Look at the orderly universe. Planets and moons and stars, some moving in regular intervals circling others. Look at the galaxies. Surely there must be a maker of these.
But whereas such natural evidences reveal some truths about God, those evidences do not lead an individual to the knowledge of the one true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To know God more accurately we turn to God’s special revelation, the Bible. We soon discover in the Bible that knowing God is very different from knowing about God. We find out that knowing God is befriending him, knowing the truth about him, being aware when his truth and honor are being desecrated, being concerned about pleasing him in ordinary situations of life, living with his awareness and loving it. Knowing God produces bravery and boldness for God leading to contentment in God.
Planet earth has been marred by human sin. We live amongst a host of problems and heartaches that visit us here everywhere you look. Knowing God is the source of rest for human beings in such a mess of a place. We can pass amidst all kinds of tragedies and knowing God becomes our anchor in such situations. Knowing God is taking God with you wherever you go.
Friends, this is the Christian secret. This is the answer to all heartaches and depressions and panic attacks: knowing who God is, his attributes, his activity in the world, his love for the world, and our place in his program. Let every believer know the story God is telling, and grasp its plot, determine to participate in it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, and remember it every day and in every situation, whatever it is, pleasant or unpleasant, positive or negative. God does not change, and his program can never be thwarted. It cannot even be delayed. It will happen precisely at the very time God intended for it to happen. So, dear believer, do not fret over anything. Let things be, and let people be who and what they choose to be. Be unperturbed; you have God on your side. May the movement forward of God’s story become the most important thing in the life of every believer. Let us pursue knowing God with all the gusto we can muster.