The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Knowing without Understanding


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Knowing God and understanding Him are two very different concepts. It’s important to realize this, for a successful pursuit of God requires a willingness to settle for attaining only one of these goals. Understanding what kind of Being God is, how He perceives reality, and how exactly He does His God thing is entirely beyond our reach, and to set our sights on such a goal will only sidetrack us with a bunch of brain breaking questions that He isn’t going to answer. But while God will not allow us to fully understand how He functions, He does invite us to know Him with ever deepening levels of intimacy.

So how does this work? Well, suppose your mentor in life was a brilliant mathematician. Suppose the man’s career revolved around working out complex formulas and computations. When you go to visit him in his office and see the numbers and letters he has written all over his wall-to-wall chalkboard, you don’t have the first clue what any of them mean. When he starts explaining them to you, you feel lost after the first sentence. So then what? Does this mean that your personal relationship with this man has to be cold and distant? Not at all. You love his company. You love talking with him about subjects that your brain can actually cognate. You love the way he attentively listens to you, you laugh at his fabulous dry wit, and you always feel pleasantly relaxed in his welcoming presence. Just because you don’t understand the man’s numbers, doesn’t mean you can’t know what his passions are in life.  It doesn’t mean you can’t know beyond all doubt that his character is good. The fact that you don’t have his level of intellect doesn’t mean that you can’t comprehend his deep love for you. You know without a doubt that this man loves you as if you were his own child. You know he only wants what is best for you and you count on his superior wisdom to guide you in life. When he advises you not to do something, you follow his advice and later on you’re always very grateful that you did. This man is always there for you, and you know that if you were ever in trouble, he would instantly drop everything and come to your aid. You can know all of these things without understanding a single calculation on his chalkboard. It’s the same with you and God: you can know Him without understanding how He does His God thing. And the better you know Him personally, the less you’ll feel the need to understand.

God is incredibly complex, and when we bump up against some of those complexities, we often feel lost and overwhelmed. Satan will be right there to tell you that if you can’t understand every nuance of how God operates and how He perceives reality, you will never be able to be close to Him. Hogwash. As our mathematician analogy demonstrates, you can experience rich intimacy with God without having the first clue about how He does His God thing. So go for knowing and don’t worry about understanding. Understanding isn’t important. Knowing is everything.

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