BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI
To decide by one's own will to come to know God, is to come face to face with futility in its extreme. Yet God is passionate in His desire to be known. The life He gives to us from eternity operative within the ages, i.e., eonian life, was defined by Jesus as: "that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." John, in his first epistle, explained in chapter 5, vs. 20, that, in fact, eonian life IS the arrival and continuing presence of God's Son in the world, so that we might come to know the True God, and His Son, Jesus Christ, and that we are in Him. (see Jonathan Mitchell's translation of the same for brilliant clarity of the Greek text). God sent His Son into the world, that the Son might make the Father known, He being of One Deity with the Father, to know Him would be, of course, to know the Father. Fundamental to the matter of knowing God, is the truth that we can only know God by God's own knowing of Himself, and His own knowledge of Himself is AS the Father AND the Son. This IS the life we have been given.
God described Himself as I AM, in reply to Moses's question re: the commission God had given him just moments before, "Who shall I say hath sent me?" There is so much to be inferred from that divine self-identification, but as we ponder its divine depths, let's not miss the obvious: God knows Himself. God knows who He is. He knows the nature of His Being, but we, left to ourselves, neither know who God is, nor the nature of His Being, nor, for that matter, who we are, or the nature of the being we have within His Being. God's passion is to call us (irresistibly, I must add) into Christ, there to share in Deity's Each-toward-the-Other knowing. The natural mind is incapable of knowing the wonder of that divine exchange of knowing, yet it is that very communion into which we are called in Christ.
The prophet exclaimed so darkly, "There is none that seeketh after God...." He was speaking first of the dearth any true spiritual reality within Israel at the time of his ministry, but his indictment must be understood also as universal in scope. How can that be? It is so because we confuse our search for self-validation, self-justification, and self-identification with a search for God. In and of ourselves, we do not seek after God, though we might clothe ourselves with gaudy religious adornments to impress ourselves and others that, "see, God is my true and great concern."
Yet God enfolds that wretchedly pathetic condition into the process by which He finally makes Himself known. At our best, we slip, as it were, off and on the hot rail of knowing God truly by our compulsive need for intellectual satisfaction and resolution. Don't get me wrong. There is a place within the Divine Knowing for that knowing to have intellectual structure. That's why I say that God enfolds our fleshly-minded obsessiveness into His process. If that were not so, we may as well throw our Bibles away. Though scripture does not resemble much the way systematic theology structures the knowledge of God, a structuring does exist within its pages. What seems to happen quite consistently in the process of being called into sharing God's knowledge of Himself/Themselves, is that very soon after an experience of God giving us a taste of Himself, with some necessary conceptual structuring (Harry Robert Fox says that all life has vitality and structure), we get seduced into admiring our conceptual structuring, with whatever mix of spirit and flesh within it.
It becomes our frame of reference in our relationship with God. The vitality of the dynamic of knowing God within experiential, intimate communion is laid aside for the addictive religious drug of conceptual satisfaction and resolution. Whatever comes our way must be judged by whether or not it fits into our conceptual box. Every spiritual movement---and I'm referring to those of genuine spiritual content---inevitably suffers from this syndrome. In a sense, it egregiously limits God; IF God could be limited by us. In fact, our little mind-games end up serving God's ends, for as Paul taught, God's subjecting of creation to futility is with expectation, with an end in view, and that end requires the experience of futility that paradoxically leads to "deep calleth unto deep."
Wonderful are those moments when the Spirit of Truth commands our busy minds to SHUT UP! "Be still and know that I am God." Not, "be busy figuring Me out." Just about the time I find myself reacting to some laughable proposition abroad today, I'm reminded that I indulged in much the same, and at times worse than what I presently react to. I'd be embarrassed to confess some of my former conclusions about God. What bothers me most of late is the spirit of smugness that pervades so much of the current, supposed, cutting-edge ideas re: man's relationship with God. The spirit of smugness overflows from within much that is preached to be edifying for the saints. What one senses is, "I now know as I ought to know." NO, "you know not as you ought to." Not yet. "WE see through a glass darkly (as in a cloudy mirror)." Paul, himself, wrote "we," including himself.