I don’t remember the specifics of the argument, but I can clearly recall what my husband declared at its conclusion: “You don’t even know me.” His words struck my heart. How could he think I don’t know him? Not one for the clever retort, I responded, “You don’t know me either!” After we had made up, I continued to reflect on those words. Did I know him? I wanted to. He was my husband. We had joined together as one before God. That day was a turning point in our early marriage as we resolved to work on knowing each other. I didn’t want to just know about John’s interests, his looks or other superficial facts about him. Anyone could know those things. I wanted to know what motivates him, what his goals are, and how deeply he loves me. Anyone who has been married for any length of time realizes that “knowing” one another requires effort and intentionality, and, this “knowing” is absolutely necessary in a relationship. Next month we will celebrate our 35th anniversary, a testament not only to our love, but our diligence!
So why is our relationship with God any different? Before I became a follower of Christ I hadn’t even thought that knowing God was a possibility. Sure there were things I knew about Him—He created the world and everything in it, but knowing Him—His character and attributes— as I would my husband, seemed an impossibility. More than that, I thought of God like a participant in hide-and-seek. He might be somewhere out there, but finding Him would require trial and error. But I now know that nothing could be farther from the Truth. God has made Himself known, and we can continue to know Him and grow in our relationship with Him.
Last week I had the opportunity to teach on the first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John, known as his prologue. Here John lays out the foundation for all that follows in his gospel, not unlike a musical overture in a play that gives a snippet of each of the songs that will follow. We learn that Jesus did not just come into being in the manger in Bethlehem; He was there in the beginning, and is eternal. Moreover, He was the creator. He was the light that came into the world, and He had a witness to His authority. In this way John lays out each of the evidentiary points which he will later develop to show that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of God, so that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30). But John does not just want us to have the evidence, he wants us to know the importance of believing Jesus is God, and so the prologue concludes:
“No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he [Jesus] has made him known.” John 1:18
John is telling us that if we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we can know the living God, the God no one has ever seen. That revelation does not cease to amaze me!
I once had a conversation with a Muslim woman who told me that our beliefs are not that different. “I believe that Jesus existed,” she said. “He was a prophet, and great teacher.” I now wish I had asked if a prophet or teacher could make God known. A prophet or a teacher can speak of God. He can testify as to what he knows about God—and he might communicate some truths. But what he can’t do is make God known. Only someone who is one with God, in other words, with God and is God (John 1:1) could fully explain God. Jesus is the full revelation of the unseen God because, and only because, He is God.
But our knowledge of Him is not meant to be a finite list of facts about Him. As I study Jesus’ life, ministry, teaching, death and resurrection in the Gospel of John, my relationship with the living God is meant to deepen. Is anything else more important?