I want to know what God wants me to do.  I want to know what’s coming, and I know that He knows already.  Do you think God wants us to know in advance what things will happen to us, and give us knowledge that will help us to experience goodness and to avoid pain?  Why would someone who knew something valuable not share it with a person for whom knowing could produce some benefit?  I think that the Creator has different definitions and values than we Creatures do, and one of the words we confuse is this word “knowing.”  Did you knowtice how many times I used it?  I knew you would….ok I’ll stop.

When we think of the word “know,” we think of thinking thoughts about facts & information…that’s how we think of knowledge…cold, arbitrary, emotionless.  That’s the Western-ness in us.  But in the language of the Bible – which is decidedly not Western – there are different words for knowing, they have colorful and varied meanings and they lead to different places than the territory of the intellect.

For example…

In Matthew 9:4, when it says that Jesus “knew” the peoples’ thoughts about Him, the word translated “knew” is οἶδα – eídō (oida) – to see with physical eyes, as it naturally bridges to the metaphorical sense: perceiving (“mentally seeing”). This is akin to the expressions: “I see what You mean”; “I see what you are saying.”  This is the closest parallel to our Western definition of “knowing.”

But all throughout scripture, we see another, deeper definition of knowing that is anything but cold, arbitrary, emotionless.  It’s more relational and committal…often intensely so.  What or whom you “know” represents something about you, your character, and your values.  This is also not like us at all.  We hold information as a commodity that we either have or do not have, and when we have it we own it.  This is not how knowledge was viewed by Jesus, His followers, the Jews, or anyone who has pursued God honestly throughout the ages.  Godly knowledge is not about information, it’s about relation.  Here’s a stunning example that may stop you in your tracks…

In Matthew 1:25, when describing how Joseph did not make love with his wife Mary until after she had given birth to Jesus, the phrase translated in NIV as “have sexual relations” or “consummate their marriage” is actually the single word γινώσκω – ginṓskō – properly, to know, especially through personal experience (first hand acquaintance).  This carries forward the ancient Old Testament Hebrew use of the term “Yada”/ “to know.” (יָדַע).  Have you ever heard someone say something like “He knew her in the Biblical sense.”  Yeah, that kind of know! My favorite Bible passage of all time has this word:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).  The word translated “acknowledge” is KNOW….in the Biblical sense.  So what in the heck is this supposed to mean for us, practically, today?

It’s obvious that this is not about sex; though there is certainly a component to human sexuality that is tied to an overwhelming sense of “knowing” another person, yes?  And in-so-far as sex is not a logical or intellectual endeavor, but one characterized by desire & passion & union, our relationship with God is meant to embody this level of pursuit and fulfillment.

Let that sink in.

When was the last time You felt so enraptured by God’s love for you that you literally felt like you were going to blow up?  Has your awareness of His workings in & through your life been so heightened and acute that you temporarily lost sight of other things?  Have you experienced such a depth of His strength and care and peace that all you could do was just lay there dumbstruck in the afterglow and say thank you?

Ok, sorry if that made you uncomfortable, but not really, I hope it caused you to pause and reflect on Your relationship with Your God the Almighty…the Bridegroom who is preparing a place for His Bride and even today wooing her to Him….wooing you.  Have you ever considered that the story of the Bible is not primarily a record of laws and moral obligations, but the love story of our relentless Father who moves heaven & earth to redeem our union with Him?

So after all that, I come back to my first paragraph about how we want God to give us knowledge about what’s coming and what we should do.  But when we look through His eyes, in terms of His continued pursuit of each one of us with a love we can’t really comprehend, it’s clear that our circumstances are not the point…HE, AND OUR UNION WITH HIM, IS THE POINT!  I don’t mean this to diminish the brokenness of our world and the pain that so many of us endure; but if this world truly is not our home, and making it out of here alive is not reality, then why do we so often chase-the-mirage like it is?  Walking in daily KNOWING with God is the point of this life and the next…everything else flows out of this fullness of union.

“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will KNOW [GINOSKO] the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32) 

“I am the good shepherd; I KNOW [GINOSKO] my sheep and my sheep KNOW [GINOSKO]  me— just as the Father KNOWS [GINOSKO] me and I KNOW [GINOSKO] the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never KNEW [GINOSKO] you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23) 

“In all your ways, KNOW [YADA] Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6)


The Pursuit of Happiness

As Americans, we are heirs of a culture that is fixated on the concept of happiness as an acquisition…something that is to be pursued, chased after, worked toward.  The implication is that happiness is not something that we have, but a deficiency which can only be fulfilled through effort.  I think there’s a nugget of truth in this, but it’s been hijacked by lies that many of us get tripped-up in believing.  There is a pursuit that produces happiness, but it’s a byproduct rather than the goal itself…and it doesn’t come from us.  There are also vast, well-traveled highways that reward pursuers with glimpses of happiness as they venture farther & farther from it.
We were made for much more than happiness…it’s simply not enough.  “Happiness” has to do with “happenings,” ergo the way to get happy and stay happy is to control the things that happen to you…or that happen because of you.  But we know that this world is far beyond our control, right?   Yet we try every moment of every day to fill that void.
  • “If I watch this…
  • “If I eat these…
  • “If I manipulate these circumstances…
  • “If I indulge in…
  • “If I am noticed and admired by…
  • “If I get this promotion…
  • “If I make this money…
  • “If I can be more successful than….
  • “If I buy this…
  • “If I sleep with…“If I drive that…
  • …THEN I will be happy!”

…Until I’m not anymore. Right?  What do we really need in order to be happy, anyway?
There is a God, the Living One who is actually there and at work in His creation to restore the hope and love with which He created it.  His is the realm of the Spirit; which invites us into union with Him, His values, and the delights that come to those who trust Him.  There is also an enemy, one whose defeat has been clinched yet his poison continues to distort all that is good.  His is the realm of the Flesh; which entices our desires, lusts, and jealousies to take control of our own destinies and pursue happiness as an end unto itself.  There is also you and me, God’s image-bearers who are dearly loved, who are called upon to choose whom we will pursue. 

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:5-11)

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:13-25)

“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man [or woman] of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:6-12)

This morning, as I continue my journey of seeking the Lord Jesus for the contentment and peace that only come through Him, I’m reminded of these things.  I say AMEN to them, and commit my way to pursuing HIM; knowing that I can trust Him to give me what I need.