There is a big difference between Knowing God and knowing about God. Many of us came to know about God through various literature, and the study of theology. We read books and listen to you tube videos to know about God. There is nothing wrong with this. Our ability to answer difficult Christian questions and knowledge and understanding of the holy scripture points to in-depth knowledge about God.
What is knowing God then? Let's pick up a couple of examples to understand the difference between Knowing about God and knowing God.
Let's turn to the book of Samuel and read the verse:
Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night. - 1 Samuel 15:10,11.
In the above passage when Samuel heard that God was sorry and upset, his heart bled. He cried all night in the presence of God. In other words, Samuel knew the heart of God. His heart started bleeding as soon as he came to know God is not happy with Saul. The heart of Samuel was very well connected with the heart of God. Samuel knew when God gets upset and what makes him happy. Samuel knew God.
Let's take another example from the words of Paul. He wrote, "For, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. "
Paul boldly declared He knew the mind of Christ. The amplified bible makes the verse more understandable.
"For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes]"
Paul says, His life's purpose was guided by God's thoughts and purpose. In other words, Paul was able to understand God's thoughts because he knew God first hand and he was able to align his life closer to God's purpose for his life.
What is Paul's purpose in life? The Lord told his disciple Ananias when he asked Him to go and meet Paul.
Go, for this man (Paul) is a [deliberately] chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will make clear to him how much he must suffer and endure for My name’s sake.” (AMP)
Since Paul knew Jesus's heart, he completely aligned his life to the suffering he was called for. Paul summarized the suffering he had gone through in his letter to Corinthians as follows:
I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him (God) far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (NLT)
Well, this is not even a full list of Paul's suffering as he faced more suffering later on after compiling the epistle to Corinthian and was finally beheaded by the Roman emperor, Nero.
Paul took all the suffering happily. He never complained nor grumbled. All his friends, who studied under Gamaliel grew up in positions and power. But Paul knew the heart of Jesus and what God had in mind for his life. The Lord called him to suffer for His name's sake. Hence all the hardship he went through neither reduced his love nor ceased his passion for God.
Samuel as a prophet knows the heart of Jesus. He knew God's emotional state. He cried when God was sorry. He knew what pleased God and what was detestable in His eyes.
Samuel said, "What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."
The 1st Century Evangelist Paul, who was well educated in the old testament laws knew about God and also knew God's thoughts and plan about his life.
To summarize knowing about God is studying, gathering knowledge, and understanding God's attributes. On the other hand, knowing God is understanding his heart and aligning our life according to God's expectations. A well-educated theologian might know about Jesus very well. He might be a great professor in an institute. But He may not know him enough to live a life pleasing to God.
Dear Reader, let's aspire to live a life dedicated to knowing God, His heartbeat, and how to align our lift to His expectation. Let's pray to Jesus.
Will you pray the below prayer in your own words from the bottom of your heart?
Dear Jesus, I come to your presence with the hunger to know you. You are the Lord who created me. You brought me into this world deliberately with a heavenly purpose in mind. I want to know and align my life to the glorious purpose for which you have created me. Like Paul, I want to obey you. Help me to understand and know about you. I want to follow you. I want to know your heartaches and join with you in prayer. Most of my life has been spent seeking what I want in life. I would like to spend the rest of my life seeking what you want to do through my life. I commit my life to your cause. In Jesus's mighty name, I pray. Amen.
Dear Reader, Thanks for joining us today on the topic of Knowing God. We are praying along with you. May Jesus reveal his heart to you. May He bless you.