Steps towards Understanding God

All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You without money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come! Buy wine and milk without money - it's free! Why spend money on what isn't food, your wages for what cannot satisfy?

Isaiah 55:1-3

If you want to start understanding God better, you have to come to him.

There is a movement involved here. To understand the One who made you, you have to be moving towards Him. If you are sitting stationary in your armchair or science lab - in other words trying to understand God with a skeptical attitude, like so many who say, "prove yourself, I don't believe anything unless it's proven beyond doubt - you will never discover much that is of any value. If you try to discover God on this basis, He leaves you on your own.

But if you are willing to take a step towards Him, He will meet you halfway. As James, Jesus' half-brother reported, "Come close to God, and He will come close to you." You take a step, then He takes a step. Much like the whole dating scene - boy meets girl. You can never discover God through mental processes alone. There is too much going against you in this world, which is determined to stamp out all desire for Him. If you were to discover something real, the chances would be great that you would declare a new revelation and set up shop as a new world religion, selling your brand of "how to get to God."

In essence that is what religion is: human insight without divine insight selling itself as truth.

God doesn't really like Religion

God never intended for us to be religious. He had a purpose when He made us, and everything He does is done within the framework of that purpose. "In the Messiah he chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in his presence. He determined in advance through Jesus the Messiah we would be his sons - in keeping with his pleasure and purpose."

You were seen in advance and chosen in God's love before the first star made it's appearance! You have been in His thoughts for ages. This is not sentimental drivel, it is God's revelation about His own thoughts. "How much you have done, LORD my God! Your wonders and your thoughts toward us - none can compare with you! I would proclaim them, I would speak about them; but there's too much to tell!" (Psalm 40:5)

So because He created us to fulfill this longing of His to love us, your relationship with God is the most important part of your life - at least touching everything that is of true eternal value, that is. You may not be ready to admit it now, but since God created you for relationship with Him, you will never be complete without Him. It's like being born without an arm in a world with many one - armed people. You've never known life any different than it is, and others assure you that it's normal, but something is definitely missing that would complete you. Tasks could get done much easier with an extra hand. Yes, you get by in life, but it's not as it should be.

This is true even if you've long understood these things: if you know it in your mind but aren't growing and continuing on in the relationship, you are tying your arm back up and living as if you had none.

Would you like to know a few keys towards understanding God better?

  • Stop trying to be an intellectual. He's not impressed, and it doesn't actually help you to "believe" any better. I'm not telling you to turn off your brain. He gave it to you and it's probably been underused anyway, considering the scientific reports that most people are only using a fraction of their capacity. It's just that skeptically examining every possibility will only make you afraid to commit to anything, afraid to believe anything or anyone.
  • Figure out something He wants you to do, then do it! I know this one sounds even stranger than the last bit of advice. How does one understand God or grow in faith by just doing something? Well, it's not actually my advice, but what Jesus said to do. "My teaching is not my own, it comes from the One who sent me. If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or I speak on my own." (John 7:16-17) In other words, if you want to figure out if Jesus is for real, and you want to stay walking the path of God's truth, then just do something he said to do. In the doing you will recognize that it is true - or recognize that it's rubbish.

    We're much too cerebral and conceptual because of our greco-roman renaissance-loving culture. We think "believing something" means understanding it and giving our mental assent to it that we think it is the way things are. The mindset in which the Bible is written is actually rather different. The people who wrote it understood that you live what you believe, because your beliefs are the rails of your mind. Wherever the rails lead to is where the train will run off to. The train of your life isn't going to jump the tracks and do anything that you don't believe in.

    So really it's a great self-check. Do you want to know what you really believe? Look at what you really do, especially under pressure, when you are stressed and the last straw comes. James in his book said as well: "What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no actions to prove it? Is such "faith" able to save him? ... Faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead." (James 2:14+17)

    I once read of a comment by a rabbi who had been working with Christian churches to organize support for Israel. He said to a friend, "Christians think very different than we do. When they look at a scripture verse, they ask each other, 'What do you believe about this verse and what it's saying?' We Jews would ask, 'What are you doing in order to understand this verse.'" Maybe we who call ourselves Christians need to stop being so afraid of "works" long enough to recognize that faith is very practical, not cerebral!
  • Realize, that it's all about knowing God in a very personal way. If you want to understand God, then you have to see that everything He does is to further your relationship with Him, to draw you into higher levels of trust, or to partner with you in bringing other people into relationship with Him. The Lord is passionate about loving people, about loving you. He loves you and He is for you.

So in your quest to know and understand God, start moving towards Him. Find something in the Bible that you recognize as something He wants you to do, and then do it. Start asking Him to communicate to you what His thoughts are towards you and believe Him when He starts to speak.

So how can I understand God better? I should first of all accept, that He made me for this purpose: to know Him and to walk with Him - all my life. It's really not about whether or not I can manage to live holy or perfect, but rather that I am walking with Him in true relationship. Behavior generally settles itself out right when the heart is right.

  1. Who is God really?
  2. Taking steps towards knowing God
  3. Understanding God better

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