GETTING TO KNOW GOD
Reading: John 1.1-14 (also Prov.8.1, 22-31 and Col.1.15-20)
I expect you will fully understand a little girl who, when she was confronted by some of the bloodthirsty and savage parts of the Old Testament, gave as her reason, “I expect that happened before God became a Christian”! It is difficult to reconcile the difference between the God often portrayed in the Old Testament, with the God that Jesus shows us.
What John is really saying at the start of his gospel, is that God was always a Christian because God was always and is and ever will be like Jesus, but mankind could never know and realise that until Jesus came. Just try to think for a moment what your understanding of God would be like without Jesus. I said ‘try to think’ because I find it almost impossible. I’m sure my understanding of God, without Jesus, would be of someone very remote & completely unreachable, even if I regarded him as the creator of the universe around me. Perhaps there may have been times when I might have experienced something of a breakthrough – some kind of revelation, but I can only think that without Jesus I would have largely thought of God as a distant creator, and someone to be feared, just as indeed many people did, as still do in certain parts of the world.
Does that mean that at some time God changed from being a remote, sometimes angry, destructive, jealous God to being more like the father-figure God that Jesus showed us? No. God didn’t change – we did, or rather our understanding of God changed. In those early days man’s knowledge of God was limited then, stage by stage, we got to know him better and better.
Think of it like this:
When a child first goes to school he or she begins with things they can understand then, over a period time, their knowledge and understanding grows and hopefully wisdom along with it!
When I first learnt to play the piano I didn’t start with Bach preludes and fugues, but more likely ‘Baa baa black sheep’! The fact that I still can’t play Bach’s preludes and fugues is beside the point!
These first verses from John’s gospel are saying there has always been an intimate connection between God and Jesus, and if we want to know more about God we need to know more about Jesus, simply because Jesus knows more about God than anyone else can possibly know.
If you should ever wish to know what someone else is like you will ask someone who knows that person better than anyone else, especially if you can’t approach that person direct. OK let’s get personal on this. If you want to know more about me – the real me – you are more like to have a conversation with Carol, or a close friend, rather than with a casual acquaintance.
But even that is limiting because even in the closest of human relationships we cannot say we know someone fully, not that I am not inferring ‘my wife doesn’t understand me’! John is saying that Jesus is so close to God that God has no secrets from him and therefore Jesus is the one person in the universe who can reveal to us what God is like, and what he feels towards us.
So, the word became flesh – God revealed in a way we can understand; God in human form not in some abstract philosophical concept. Even now we can still walk in the countryside that Jesus walked in and look at some buildings that Jesus looked at. We can have, in the most simple of ways, a physical connection to the Son of God. If we want to know God we need to know more and more about Jesus, which is why our house groups are so vitally important to our learning as we share the scriptures together with our personal experiences.
But being a Christian is much more than knowing about God; it is being in a relationship with God – a family relationship with God. Verse 12 says ‘to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God’, and that is emphasised when we speak of God as ‘Father’. Isn’t that such a precious thought? If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour then we can think and speak of God as Father. I know of no other religion that regards their God or gods in the same way.
When Jesus came he was making it plain that he was inviting mankind into the very life of God. So how do we enter into that life? – By believing that Jesus is really and truly the Son of God. It means we have to make up our minds about Jesus. If he is only a man there is no reason why we should believe what he says, but if, as we look at him, learn about him, study him, and think about him and come to the conclusion that this man is truly the Son of God, then we come some way to entering the life of God.
But there is one more thing, because it is more than intellectual belief. It is also to take Jesus at his word, to accept his commandments as absolutely binding, and to believe without question that what he says is true.
Have you come to that conclusion? Yes, there will probably, indeed certainly, be aspects of faith in Jesus Christ that you do not yet fully understand but faith, as I have said so often, is a matter of trust, and I have enough trust in Jesus to accept everything he says even when I don’t understand it.
May our faith in Jesus, and our knowledge of God the Father, grow and deepen as the years go by so I close with the words of Paul to the Ephesians (Chapter 1 verse 17):
‘I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better’.