Some time ago I was at the store, checking out with my goods, and as I left I said, "Goodbye," to the attendant. She said, "Have a good day, pastor." I stopped. Shocked. I didn't know her, but she knew about me, even though we didn't know each other.
On a similar note, I wrote a letter to President Obama a couple of months ago. I know a lot about President Obama, but if you were to ask the President, "How's Nate Whiteside doing?" He would say, "Who?"
In Spanish there are two words for "to know" something: saber, meaning "to know about or have knowledge about someone or something," and conocer, meaning, "to know someone personally." The second word means to know someone more than just being able to recite facts about them.
What I want to challenge you to do is not just to know about God, but to conocer Him. Is that how you know Him today?
I want to challenge you all year in 2010 to know God. We will be looking at different characters in the Bible and how they knew God, and things we can take away from their relationship with God.
John 17:3 is the only time Jesus defines eternal life, a subject He talks about a lot. John 3:16, for example, is one of the most well-known Scripture verses recited, saying, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." That's how to have eternal life. But what is it?
Jesus says in John 17:3, "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent."
So when we are saved, we are not just saved to be stored somewhere until heaven, but we are saved to know God more and Jesus Christ more--that we would develop a fresh, deep pursuit of God this year.
In Adam, we will see how Adam knew God as Provider, as Judge, and how Adam's knowledge of God was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The first thing we see in Genesis 2 is that Adam knew God as Provider. One might make the case that no one except Jesus Himself knew God more intimately than Adam in those early days. Take your Bible and read Genesis 1:28-30, and 2:5-9. God provided for Adam and Eve, even making a garden and moving them there. God provided food for Adam, work for Adam, companionship for Adam in Himself and intimate companionship in Eve. Genesis 2:25 says, "the man and his wife were both naked and felt no shame." When was the last time you did not have a secret or something to be ashamed about? When was the last time you were able to be yourself and feel no shame? God wants to provide that for each of us.
Their relationship was as natural as a child and parent. My son came up to me the other day and said, "Daddy, I need some milk." There was no hesitation about whether or not I would provide for him, but he knew that since I had always provided for him, I would always provide and he could ask. We too need what God can provide: food, clothes, work, transportation, but also emotional well-being, companionship, freedom from loneliness.
Do you have a close relationship with God? Do you know Him?
A couple of months ago I received a call from my mother while driving back from Madison, and had to pull off the side of the road. My mother told me about some bad news, that they had found a cancerous spot on her back, and I had to tell God my bad feelings about this. I was angry, and not doubting God's powers to heal her, but frustrated and over the edge!
Do you know God? What do you need Him to provide?
I challenge you to look at God as the great Provider. God may say "Yes," "No," or "Wait!" If you're looking for a god who provides, this God is the One!
Second, when you get to know God, something else happens. We get to a certain point in our relationship with God, we will be like Adam, where we are tempted to cross the line. We don't think rules and commands are a blessing, but like Moses wrote in Psalm 103, part of God's blessings are His statutes and judgments. He gives us the 10 Commandments so we can have a better life, a better marriage, a better relationship with our family, a better relationship with our friends. God is an accountable God who makes us give an account of our actions.
Who loves their children more, the parent who says, "Here's $20, get out of my face," or the parent who rolls up her sleeves and spends time cleaning up the messes, correcting the bad behavior, and confronting her child.
If you want to find a church or group of people who believe God is only goodness and never disciplines you can find them out there. Today we have taken God and recreated Him to fit our wants, not our needs. We're like the scientist and the flea. The scientist put a flea in his petri dish and took off one of the flea's legs, and told him to jump (but don't worry, no fleas were hurt in the experiment). The flea could not jump. The scientist took off another leg, and repeated the command with the same results. Again the scientist repeated the process until the flea had only one leg remaining. The scientist took off that leg too and yelled, "Jump!" Then louder, "Jump!" Then at the top of his lungs he shouted, "Jump!" Nothing. The flea did not move. So the scientist went to his notebook and made the following observation, "When you remove all of the flea's legs, it loses its sense of hearing."
But that's how we treat God so many times! We put God in a box and expect Him to conform to our logic and principles, and if God doesn't, we make the wrong conclusion about God. We say, "Because you let my loved one die, you are no longer good!" But God is and was good long before any of us were born. We say, "Since you allowed me to experience pain you do not exist!" But God uses suffering for His good many, many times, and always will.
The closer we get to God, the more He will correct what is wrong with us, and the more He will want to make us better. As we get to know Him more, we must admit our faults and correct them.
But that is the reason some of you do not attend church, listen to teaching or preaching (such as this blog), or want to read the Bible. You figure that if you don't spend time with God in prayer you won't be confronted with sin and won't have to change. We have a decision to make. Either stay where you are and don't grow, or get to know God more and grow, even if it means sometimes dealing with your sin.
Part of knowing God more is dealing with my sin.
Several nights this past week I was at the church until later, and it was dark. I came to the back door of our home and pulled out my keys, but could not tell which key it was until I got closer to the porch light. I brought my unidentifiable wad to the light, and was able to see the right key to open the door. Not only was I able to see the right key, but I was able to see some unpleasant things about myself in the light, that I couldn't see in the dark. I saw scuff marks from where my elbow had brushed the dirty car, and dirt on my shoes.
The same is true with God, as 1 John tells us, "if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ covers our sin." We start to see our sin and need to deal with it.
So do you want to have the blessings of knowing God more? Do you want to take the challenge, even if it means changing something?
Maybe there's a conflict between you and someone else, and because of your pride you've decided you're right and you're holding onto it. Maybe there has been a significant loss and you have never dealt with it.
Not too long ago I visited a man in an uncomfortable situation who lost his best friend, mostly due to his mistake. He has lived with the death of his friend and never dealt with it properly yet. do you think that affects him? Come to God, know God, and deal with what needs fixing, and find greater blessing.
Not only can we know God the Provider, and need to examine ourselves more as we know God, but we can know God as the solution to Adam's problem.
What was Adam's legacy? Job 31, "have I covered my transgression like Adam?" Hosea 6:7 also "but like Adam, they have sinned." Adam: the one who introduced sin. What a legacy.
My Whiteside theology, though, says that if Adam wouldn't have blown it, someone else would have. Romans 5:12 tells us, "Therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all have sinned. For before the Law was given, sin was in the world." v. 14, "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses even over those who did not sin by breaking a command as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass, for if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace, and the gift that came by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ overflow to the many."
1 Corinthians 15 tells us that if sin came by one living soul, then life also came through the life giving Spirit Jesus Christ. God decided to redeem what the first Adam messed up through the last Adam Jesus! 1 Corinthians 15 tells us Jesus Christ is that Last Adam! To know God as Adam did, is not complete unless you know Jesus Christ.
Adam's problem isn't solved until we know Christ. Each of us is born into this sin that Adam created. If you've never known Jesus Christ, you've never dealt with that sin. Come face to face with who you are, and that legacy of wanting to do wrong, and take Jesus Christ, the solution to the unsatisfying life.
The good news is that Jesus Christ came to this world, died, rose again, so that we may know Him, and know God.
Remember John 17:3, "This is eternal life: to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent."
Knowing God happens when we are in a jam, or when things are going great. You may be suffering, needing a job, praying for a sick relative, looking for help with your marriage, and maybe really looking for help with your marriage. The solution starts with knowing God, and knowing God starts with knowing Jesus, believing He died on the cross for your sin, rose again, and only He can get you out of this pit and give you this eternal life.
Why not bow now and pray this to God? "God, I know I am a sinner and that Jesus Christ died for me and rose again from the dead. I believe He paid what I should pay for my sin, and commit now to follow Him."
Do you know God in Christ already? Pray today, "Lord, forgive me for staying comfortable and accepting less than my best for God. I want to know You more. Please help me to read my Bible each day and pray, and hear from You. Please bless me. Amen."
If you have prayed either of these prayers, I hope you consider emailing me at
firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.