Friday, 28 March 2008

The second question - How can I know God?

Asking how you can know God is probably the second most important question after asking whether or not he exists. If you asked the UK public, the answers given would be incredibly varied. Someone might tell you that they find God in themselves, or in nature, another might say that they find God in a particular tradition or ceremony, some people might even tell you that God is so far above us, that we can't really know him at all.

The Bible says otherwise, John 1 tells us of a character called the Word. The Word was both God and was with God. He was in the beginning with God, and through him all things were made. Later on in the chapter, it becomes apparent that this Word is Jesus Christ. But why does John use this Word codename for Jesus? It's probably to do with what words do - they communicate a message. The Word came from God to communicate a message.

Later in the chapter, we are told that a man called John (the Baptist) was sent by God to witness to this Word as he came into the world. Here the Word is referred to as the true light which comes into the world to enlighten everyone. Why does John use this Light codename for Jesus? What do lights do? They reveal and enlighten things. The True Light came from God to reveal and enlighten.

A few verses on, in verse 14, we are told that the "Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." When Jesus came into the world he came full of grace and truth.

But why was this necessary? Surely we can find out about God on our own without any help from Jesus? A helpful illustration is to think of yourself being locked in a room. There are no windows. There are no doors, and thus no keyholes to look through. You have absolutely no idea what is outside and you can't hear anything because the walls are so thick. Where are you?

You might think that the room you're in is in the middle of a jungle - because it just feels like your in jungle. Your friend who is sitting next to you might disagree, he thinks that you're in the middle of Manchester - again, it just feels like it is. But you can't prove anything, one might be right, but there's no way of knowing as there's no evidence. The only way to find out what's outside the room would be for someone outside to break in and tell you. Its impossible to know otherwise.

This is what this part of John tells us Jesus did - verse 18 says "no one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." Jesus broke into our world to show us God and make him known.

So, if we want to know about God, we have to look to God to tell us rather than to listen to what people tell us. The Bible makes the staggering claim that Jesus is God - look at verse 1 of this passage - and thus if we want to know God we need to look at Jesus.

Where can you look at Jesus? A good place to start is one of the written eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life in the Bible. Mark is a good bet if you haven't read the Bible before. If you haven't got a copy of the Bible, there are a few options: there are a few websites on the internet that have all the text online, or if you are in a university, look out for the CU (United Kingdom), GBU (France, Spain, Italy), SMD (Germany), OSM (Austria) as they'd be more than happy to give you a free copy and meet up to read it with you.

No comments: