I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. (Job 42:5)
At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
Read: Job 40:1-42:17, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Psalm 45:1-17, Proverbs 22:14
Relate: When I was reading through today’s scripture in Job and I got to Job 42:5, my immediate thought was, “I’ve been hit by a bus.” Then when I was in 2 Corinthians 5, the same thought came to me again. Most, if not all of you, will have no idea what I am referring to for that. Well, way back to when I was fresh out of college, I began working through my own personal theology. After growing up in a Pentecostal Christian home, and graduating from an Assemblies of God Bible College, it was time to start examining for myself what I believed. Being who I am, instead of just working through this on my own, I did so for all the world to see on this cutting edge piece of technology called Myspace. Believe it or not, for a good while I was consistently in the top 20 for most read Christian blogs on Myspace. I bet most of you didn’t even know such a list existed. Anyways, I’ve dug up one of those earliest pieces of writing so that you might understand what I mean by “I’ve been hit by a bus.”
God is. God is powerful. I’ve come to the conclusion that the first statement is logical. The second statement is self-evident in that any understanding of God, by any definition, would include power. Beyond that, however, I am unable to build an understanding of God by my own means that would be able to pass honest scrutiny. Does that mean that beyond this simple definition God is unknowable? Yes. No. Both.
Yes, God is unknowable in that, by my own understanding, through my own reasoning and observation, I will never be able to come to a greater comprehension of who God is. No, God is not unknowable in that He is capable of making Himself known. We are able to know God if, and only if, He is willing to reveal Himself to us. The operative question now is: Is He willing?
There are four types of Revelation that I will look at and probably refer to from here on out. They are: reflective, testimonial, environmental, and experiential. Rather than (pretend to) give some great intellectual definition for them I am going to use an analogy of a bus.
I’m standing by the side of the road and as a bus drives by. I feel the breeze it leaves in its wake. That breeze is reflective revelation. The truck has just revealed itself to me, but half the time I don’t recognize it as the bus. I may feel its breeze but only on reflection do I understand its source. It is easy to reason away this revelation as one of many other reasons why I might have felt such a breeze.
In the second scenario someone tells me the bus just went by. I have a choice to believe them or not. Actually, I do have the choice to believe them in part. “Yes, a vehicle went by, but I think it was just a bicycle… or perhaps a tank.” Here, there are many variables in play. How honest is this person? How accurate is their memory? Did *they* encounter the truck or was it the friend of a friend? To get more pointed… how reliable is this written report about the bus? I’m guessing, in further weeks, I’ll be looking at this type of revelation more closely.
In environmental revelation something actually changes in the *universe* around us. As I’m standing by the side of the road I see the bus, I can hear its horn, for a moment I am actually in the shadow of the bus. This is much harder to deny than the first two types of revelation but it is still not impossible. Also, over time the impact of this revelation is fading. The further I am removed from the event, the more it slides into the second category of revelation (my memory tells me)… [I gave a personal example of environmental revelation I am skipping for brevity’s sake.]
So, I get back to my earlier question. Is God willing to reveal Himself? Yes. Unquestioningly, without hesitation, yes. Why am I so confident in making this claim when it was so difficult (and only with hesitation) for me to even acknowledge that God is? Because for the first three weeks I was relying on what I can reason about God. Now I am resting on what He has revealed to me. I’m not just talking about the types of revelation shown above. I’m talking about experiential revelation. God has come down and impacted my life. I’ve been hit by the bus.
React: Reasoning can only get us so far. Actually, I am reading a book by a Nobel Prize winner on the subject which is showing me how it cannot get us nearly as far as we once thought. (Buy it for yourself here.) Ultimately, we will never truly understand some things until they have been experienced. This is true with some foods. I can never truly be able to describe the tastes of some Turkish things like katmer or ayran except to say, “You just have to try it for yourself.” How much more is this true with Christianity. You cannot ever truly know how awesome our Savior is until you yourself have been saved. So are you willing to step out and see for yourself? Take a bite that you might “taste and see” that the Lord is good.
Hit me. I don’t want to just think and reason about You. I don’t want to just hear what others have to say about You. I want to experience for myself. I understand that in doing so, my life will never be the same. Even so, I am ready for what You will do. Like Job I want to be able to say, “I have heard before, but now I have seen with my own eyes.” Like Paul, “At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently I know him now!” I am ready for the old to be gone that the new may come. Please do it in my life.