Tuesday, May 11, 2021

God in a Box

Yesterday, we introduced two kinds of knowledge that we have about God: sufficient knowledge, which is everything we need to know to love and worship Him, and a developing, eternal knowledge, which is all the things He does that capture our hearts anew. 

Job's friends had a ton of the first kind of knowledge. They knew everything they needed to know to be certain of God's power, His force, His command, the workings of obedience and justice and faith and righteousness and all that stuff. Job's friends were so confident in what they knew about God that not only were they certain that they knew God, but they were certain that they knew everything there is to know about God. 

That's the danger of the first kind of knowledge. When we know everything that we need to know to make a decision, we believe that means that we know everything there is to know. (This is true, by the way, not just when it comes to God, but when it comes to nearly anything. We only consider what we consider, and we never consider what we don't think to consider. If we are buying a new car, for example, and we know that we like 'x' things about this car, that is usually sufficient for us to make a purchase. We do not consider that there might be other things about the car that we haven't yet considered because we have determined what is sufficient for us, and we have acted on our sufficient knowledge.) 

What this meant in the case of Job's friends, and what it means for us, is that they did not have an understanding that permitted God to do any more - or any less - than the fullness of their knowledge of Him. It was not possible that God would do anything differently than they imagined it. It was not possible that God would surprise them in any way. 

This is a problem for two reasons. First, obviously, if God never does anything you don't expect Him to or that you don't understand, then you will never learn anything new about God. Ever. You will never come to know more of His grace, His goodness, His heart, His anything that you do right now. Because you can't permit Him to act outside of the box of your own understanding, your own understanding of Him never grows. Your faith will always be stagnant at the point of what you believe is sufficient. 

This is one of the greatest barriers to our spiritual development, and it's why it's so easy for so many to walk away from the faith. It becomes, in a word, boring. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so He is always...this. Whatever this is. Whatever it is that you understand it to be. There's nothing new. No developing relationship. No romance. Nothing to capture your heart. When you stop at 'sufficient,' when you reach the point of intellectual assent (your ability to say yes, there is a God) and go no further, it's no wonder your faith stagnates. You learn to acknowledge Him, but not to love Him. 

And the second problem is that God is confined to this incredible smallness. God is restricted to only your understanding of Him. That means that the infinite God of the universe, the God who created all things, the God whose wild imagination thought not only of the platypus and the weeping willow, but also of you, is no bigger than your own mind. You believe you not only can understand everything there is to understand about Him, but that you already do. 

At that point, well, it's hard to keep worshiping. It's hard to keep revering a God so small that He can fit in your head. It's easy to start questioning how much of Him is real and how much you have created in your own image. It's easy to walk away. Because a God that small is simply not that impressive, and what was once sufficient becomes much less so. Your questions overtake you, and it's only because you have let God form you, but not love you. 

We need the first kind of knowledge about God so that we can come to a point where we want to know Him, where we're certain of His existence and perhaps even His goodness (as a theoretical idea), and where we want to be a people of God. 

But if we stop there, there is so much about God that we're going to miss. And we're not even going to know we're missing it. We're never going to come to love God the way that we would if we let Him surprise us every now and then, if we let Him take our hearts and not just our minds. We need the second kind of knowledge about God, too. That developing revelation of goodness, grace, and glory that keeps our hearts wrapped in His love and thirsting for more of it, that keeps our eyes open not just for what we know of Him, but for what we do not yet know. For all the things we're learning, right now, as we do more than just believe in Him; we earnestly seek Him. For we understand He is greater even than this. 

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