Knowing God is a Personal Relationship

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, says the LORD (Jer. 9:23-24).”

A syndicated columnist writing for the Washington Times was sitting at the O’Hare international airport terminal, finishing up his article about the new bill President Barack Obama was implementing for health care reform. A young girl came up and asked out of curiosity: “So, you must know a lot about our President to be writing an article about him in the newspaper?” The columnist confidently replied: “Yes, I know about his political policies, that He is our 44th president, the first African American to hold the office, was a graduate of Harvard Law School,  spent twelve years lecturing constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and was born in Hawaii.”

The girl quickly responded. “That’s great. Since you know so much about him, I’ve always been curious. What’s his favorite food?” The man hesitated and stuttered, “Well, uhh, I don’t really know.” Okay then, the girl sarcastically replied, “Do you at least know what his favorite movie is of all time?” The man once again reluctantly replied: “Sorry, but I don’t know the answer to that question either. Finally, the girl shook her head in disappointment, walked over to her mom, and grumbled: “I don’t know who hired that man over there to write about our President, but if I were in charge Mom, you know what I would do? I would tell him to look for another job.”

The syndicated columnist knew many facts about the president of the United States, but even the girl realized that the man didn’t really know the President from a relational perspective. In the Scripture above, God is saying the same: that the source of our joy and importance should not come from our abilities, possessions, or even knowing facts about God. We make a distinction between knowing facts and knowing persons. People can have an intellectual understanding about God; that His character consists of infinite love (1 John 4:8), wisdom (John 4:24), justice and righteousness (Rom. 3:26), that He is eternal (Ps. 102:25-27), holy (Ex. 20:11), and wrathful (Rom 1:18), but not truly know God. The Pharisees knew about God, but they didn’t know Him personally.

How then do we know God personally? Like any type of relationship, we spend time with the person, enjoy their presence, communicate, invest time listening and sharing one another’s concerns. Imagine if I came home from work and my wife cooked a nice meal for me. After I ate the meal, I didn’t communicate my thankfulness, got on the computer, and went to bed without saying goodnight. Do you think that pattern will cultivate a healthy relationship? Of course not. In the same way, if we don’t spend time in prayer, read our Bible, or go to church, you can’t expect to magically know God. Every type of relationship takes effort.

This week, set a goal to know God personally. Don’t just study theological books or learn about Him, but talk to Him. He is our Heavenly Father that desires to hear our joys, pains, and struggles. Remember, because He is omnipresent, you can speak to Him in your car, at work, in the kitchen, on the airplane, and yes, even while your on vacation. Have a blessed week!

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