I know Michael Phelps. Seriously! He went to the University of Michigan, which is close to where I grew up, so of course I have to know him. Don’t believe me? Let me tell you more about him! He’s one of the most successful athletes of all time, now with over 20 medals in the Olympics (mostly gold, of course). He’s 6’4” and was born in Maryland. One of my favorite nicknames of his is the “Flying Fish” because of his strong butterfly swim stroke in the pool. See, I know him!
Okay, maybe I don’t actually know him. But clearly, I can find out a lot about him by simply searching for him on Wiki. I did the same with God to write this article. Here’s what I found when I simply typed “God” into the search engine: He is without gender, He is the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, and that He can’t be seen, save His hand sometimes as artists like to depict. It’s really easy to learn more about God or anyone else really with a search engine.
As a current church worker and forever student of the Word, one of my greatest struggles is that I settle in simply knowing about God. I know the Bible pretty well – that happens when you study it your whole life, even into college! When I finish a book or watch a movie, I set it down for a few years or even forever because I know the story. I tend to get in the mindset that I can do the same with the Bible. I lose interest because I think I know the Bible so well. But here’s the problem with that: it’s not the Bible that I am getting to know when I read it. I’m getting to know God personally every time I open its pages.
The Bible calls people like me “fools”, actually, which is very humbling and fitting for this silly, negligent attitude of mine (Romans 1:20-22; most of Proverbs). But the Bible also talks about ways to remedy that attitude and gives reasons why my attitude is silly. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I love that first part of the verse: “breathed out by God”. I get such a great visual when the author writes those words. The Bible contains this language elsewhere, by the way: “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7). If the very breathe that has given us life has breathed into the Bible, this Holy Book must be alive as well.
I think about getting to know about a person when talking about getting to know God. I don’t know Michael Phelps, but I can tell you about my husband’s character. He’s honest, loving, fun, and truthfully a bit edgy! I can’t look him up on Wiki, but I discover new things about him daily through conversation. I can do the same for you with God’s character, but it’s not based off of Wiki. I know God as loving, kind, merciful, all-powerful, just; I know Him as a peace – bringer, a healer, a savior, and so on!
God’s character is woven throughout scripture: through the very words that He’s breathed into it. Authors of the various books in the Bible talk of all these characteristics through their encounters with Him. How can we encounter Him personally then? We can do the same thing that I do to get to know anyone else: through conversation.
Some think that God is silent and that He doesn’t communicate with us anymore. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! He has been communicating with us for all of eternity. Here’s how He is communicating with us today: through the Words that He has already spoken in the Bible. “Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are.” (1 John 3:1). God speaks to us through His words of life. And you have the opportunity to talk back, and that’s through prayer. This form of communication looks way different than our human conversations, but that’s just it: it’s only human. Our conversations with the Divine are only divine as He continuously pours His love into us with every word He speaks.
Knowing about someone is different than personally knowing. Don’t settle for simply knowing about God: get to know Him personally. Open you Bible: let God’s love pour over you, “Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation” (Ephesians 3:17).