By George Bassilios
“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this. That he understands and knows Me.” [Jer 9:23-24] | How Can I Get to Know God Better?
Why are we here? To know God.
What is eternal life? Knowledge of God. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
God said on the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet,
- “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this. That he understands and knows Me” (Jer 9:23-24).
If God transcends everything in our thoughts just as He transcends everything in our world, how then can we get to know Him and grow in His knowledge?
How Can I Get to Know God Better? | Developing the Ultimate Relationship
You can know something, or someone by studying him or her. But that knowledge does not help you learn and understand their heart. Our God is a Personal God and the way we get to know Him better is the same way we get to know our brothers and sisters.
First, you cannot grow in the knowledge of God if you don’t believe He exists. Therefore, the first step in knowing God is faith.
How Can I Get to Know God Better? | Faith
Acknowledging that we trust His revelation of Himself more than we trust our own intellect. St. Paul says,
- “By faith we understand” (Heb 11:3).
The disciples believed their Master and grew in knowing Him.
- “We have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69).
- Paul says, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil 3:7-11).
- Paul also avows, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim 1:12).
Faith and knowledge are two blades of a pair of scissors. One leads to the other and is strengthened by the other. The more I trust God, the more I know Him. The more I grow in my knowledge of Him, the more I trust Him.
Second, once you believe that this Person exists, you would want to converse and communicate with Him. I talk to Him in prayer and listen to Him through His words in the Scriptures.
How Can I Get to Know God Better? | Prayer
To get to know God better, you must spend time with Him. If you want to spend time with Him, you must make time for Him in prayer—both private and communal, both spontaneous and liturgical.
Our prayer ascends to God in faith. Faith is, to a large extent, dependent on who we think God truly is. Therefore, the efficacy of our prayers is directly dependent on our personal knowledge of God.
Prayer unveils the mysteries of God. Jeremiah says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer 33:3).
Just as food is essential for our physical health and growth, and knowledge of the truth is essential for our mental health and growth, a consistent prayer life is essential for our spiritual health and growth.
Prayer does not always have to be offered with words. It can also be offered without words and without other outward manifestations. This is the inner prayer of the soul. God prefers a heart without words than words without a heart.
While words are like the movements of a conductor’s baton, prayer is the sound of music.
Similarly, listening to God through the Scriptures enlightens our mind and heart. The Scriptures give us a window into:
- The mind of God by revealing to us His words.
- The will of God by revealing to us His commandments.
- The heart of God by revealing to us His promises.
The Scriptures are a biography of God in this world. In it, the Indescribable One has described Himself so that His children, whom He created, may get to know Him better.
Third, after believing in Him and communicating with Him, I must follow Him and obey what He tells me to do. And what He asks of me is summarized in one virtue: Love.
How Can I Get to Know God Better? | Love
Loving God is accomplished through doing His will and obeying His commandments, especially by loving each other; “For he who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Love is how we should approach God. Our love captures Him better than knowledge. Unlike knowledge, love conforms itself to what it loves. Consider this:
- A child can partially understand his parent but can love them whole-heartedly.
- Even among ourselves, we can never fully comprehend each other, but we can fully love each other.
- Our thoughts cannot define God, but our hearts can reach out and touch Him.
St. John also tells us, “By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3).
What are His commandments?
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Loving one another with the love we receive from God is the fulfillment of God’s commandments. And keeping His commandments is the path on which we must walk for us to grow in His knowledge.
Some seek to know God, and then start doing His will (commandments). But you’ll find it quicker and more loving to seek Him by doing His will.
St. Silouan the Athonite says,
“No matter how much we may study, it is not possible to come to know God unless we live according to His commandments.” [St. Silouan the Athonite, Writings, VIII.3]
St. Maximos the Confessor also says,
“Just as the thought of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not actualize the light of spiritual knowledge in the soul. Just as the light of the sun attracts a healthy eye, so through love, knowledge of God naturally draws to itself the pure intellect.” [St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.31-32, The Philokalia: (Vol. 2)]
By faith, we get to know God; by prayer, we get to communicate with Him, but by love, we get to be like Him.
Faith and prayer bring us to the doorstep of Heaven, while love goes with us inside.
“By faith, we get to know God; by prayer, we get to communicate with Him, but by love, we get to be like Him.” George Bassilios | How Can I Get to Know God Better?
We should seek knowledge about God (theology) as a means to an end. The ultimate goal of theology isn’t knowledge, but godliness. If our knowledge of God does not lead us to live a life of piety, holiness, and worship, we have failed.
St. Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Cor 1:8). Theoretical knowledge, devoid of love, leads to pride and futility. Whereas, experiential knowledge fueled by faith, prayer, and love leads us to the truth—Timeless Truth.
By: George Bassilios | Deacon at St Antonius Coptic Orthodox Church ~ San Francisco, California USA – #timelesstruth
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