What’s the capital of China? How do you add 16 and 9? Where is the longest river in the world? How do you say ‘hello’ in French?
Our days are filled with questions. Breakfast, lunch and dinner conversation can feel more like a general knowledge quiz. Questions pouring from inquisitive little minds, inspiring learning and opening up conversation. Questions invite the sharing of minds and the practice of listening. They reveal a desire for knowledge. Knowledge inspires more knowledge and soon the conversation has progressed far beyond the original question.
One minute you’re answering ‘Bonjour’, the next you’ve signed your 6 year old up to Duolingo, planned the family holiday to France and imagining the year old your child will do as part of her joint honours degree! How did we get there?
We can trace the development of knowledge in our own lives though can’t we. A world of previously unknown areas of interest and hobbies opened up to us in conversations around the dinner table, then with our friends and in our classrooms at school. Before we know it, (or rather because we do!), these become the subjects of degrees, topics of Masters or phD dissertations. Our knowledge has reached a level of kudos.
However, if we’re honest with ourselves, sometimes the thirst for knowledge can become so consuming, that the subject matter becomes irrelevant. The pursuit of our knowledge becomes knowledge itself. Soon, it’s not an area of interest that fuels a desire to study more, but the love of studying. The world of education knows this and has made a great profit from thirsty, minds. Knowledge becomes the goal itself, and feeds off pride and competition. Education knows this and advertises accordingly. At one end of the journey, the preschool posters show smiling children playing together in their ‘learning environment’, while adverts for university show the independent fearless student developing their own mind: me against the world.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m the biggest advocate for education. Learning as part of living, and enjoying that learning is a key part of how God has created us. He created us to discover, to learn, to progress in understanding, to know. However, the knowledge he has planned for our hearts and minds is not a world of generalities, of knowledge for its own sake. We were created for a better knowledge. A knowledge that creates, builds and deepens relationships, rather than the knowledge that isolates, cuts off and domineers others. A knowledge that doesn’t get lost in itself, but remains fixed on its subject matter. Knowledge that no longer glories in itself but becomes a loving delight in glory. In the glory of God.
Jonathan Edwards said, ‘The most excellent actual knowledge’ we can have ‘is the knowledge and love of God…. of his glory and excellence’And we can have this knowledge of God, because he himself gives it to us. All our knowledge of God, comes from him, even more beautifully, it comes from the knowledge that God has of himself.
In C.S.Lewis’ The Magicican’s Nephew, Uncle Andrew is sharing with Diggory his burden of academia “Men like me, who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules, just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours my boy is a high and lonely destiny.” He is the typical fool of the novel, the conceited puffed up scholar who is outwitted by children and witches. He has become so blinded by the love of knowledge itself that he has cut himself off from others and set himself arrogantly above the laws of the land.
I wonder if we can be guilty of considering God as a type of Uncle Andrew: the great all knowing. But really God must be lonely, needy, maybe a little bit arrogant and smug, and definitely not happy.
The reality could not be more different. If our knowledge of God comes from God’s knowledge of himself, then he willingly, lovingly, powerfully choose to reveal himself to us. His knowledge is absolutely infinite and far surpasses the capacities of the greatest of human minds. God’s knowledge does require that there are secret things that belong to him alone. However, he is not the self deluded, self isolating Uncle Andrew type. He has gloriously chosen to reveal to us his character, who he is so that what he knows of himself, becomes our knowledge of Him. His revealed knowledge then belongs to us and to our children forever. This is the promise of Deuteronomy 29v29.
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever….
Consider the sun and the sun beams that we looked at a few blogs ago. Those rays of light that naturally come from the sun show us the nature of God to reveal himself, to share with us. Imagine those rays of light in this case as the knowledge God reveals of himself to us, coming from himself, communicated to us from his infinite knowledge of himself. All that God is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwelling in perfect unity, mutually glorifying, serving and loving one another. No hint of loneliness. No room for sadness. God is pure, perfect, joy, delight and satisfaction in himself. He knows this of himself and he reveals this to us.
The knowledge of God truly shines and it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness has shone into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4v6
Knowledge of God does not deal in generalities but in particularities. Knowing God is not developing an idealogy, a proposition, a phenomena, playing around with ideas and forming vague arguments. Knowing God is a personal, relational, particular knowledge of God as he has revealed himself in Jesus. We don’t know God for the sake of accumulating more facts. We know God as our perfect loving heavenly Father through his Son, Jesus. We know God in real, day to day loving relationship with him, in personal, particular experience. We know him because he has made himself gloriously known to us.
Lord help me prize and value the knowledge of you shining in the face of Jesus, every day, more and more. By your Holy Spirit, continue to reveal yourself to me in Jesus, as I meet him in the Scriptures, more and more.And let it be the desires of my heart that you God would give me deep knowledge of yourself in particular and reveal to me more and more your fatherly love in Jesus and Jesus’s sweet love to me.