If you are someone who grew up in the church, you are likely quick to answer this question in the affirmative. “Can I know God personally?” Absolutely. You’ve been hearing your whole life that Christianity is about a relationship with God. At the minimum, you have answer to the question. Whether you really believe it or not, well, that may be a different matter entirely.
If you are someone who was never taught about God, and have only heard bits and pieces about this Jesus character, knowing God personally sounds a whole lot like knowing Santa Claus personally. The point, for you, may not be to really know him, as much as it is to make sure that all the things he knows about you work to your favor– if there happens to be a God at all.
The reason this question is so tough is simple. If I can know God personally, or more, if God wants me to know him personally, why is he so hidden? Why doesn’t he just show up, introduce himself and we can proceed to be friends just like anyone else? Why so mysterious? Why hide?
That’s a legit set of questions if you ask me. Ones I’ll admit to struggling with from time to time. And, again, I won’t pretend to have all the answers to those questions.
We can, however, consider a few things. But before we do, lets establish a starting line. First off, we’ll assume you believe God exists (or you wouldn’t be asking this question) and that he is a transcendent, supernatural being. If you are willing to go with that then keep reading. If not, keep reading anyway, but you’ll probably have some issues with what I have to say.
When we say we “know” someone, we don’t always mean the same thing. For instance, I know Kobe Bryant only in the sense that I know who he is. I might even say I know a bit about his character based on my observations of him. I know what statements “sound like him,” and what actions sound like something he might do. In fact, you can know quite a bit about a person before you actually meet them. Someone could tell you all about your blind date, or a resume or bio can give people a sense of who you are. A YouTube video, a blog, a book, a documentary… all of these things can help you know about a person you’ve never met.
In some senses, this is what the Bible does for Christians. It introduces God to us. It allows us to get a glimpse at who He is. In it, we can learn his character and the things that “sound like him.” In many cases, it is all of those things we mentioned above. It’s a resume, a bio, and a documentary about some major aspects of God. In this sense, knowing God can be as simple as studying the Bible to get to know his character. Getting to know God might mean revisiting his place in human history. It can be wrestling with the what, whys, and hows of his interaction with people.
But the question is not simply about knowing God, it’s about knowing God personally. This is an important distinction.
When we say we know someone personally, it means that our knowledge of them is not based on words, either written or spoken. Instead, our personal knowing has to do with our experiencing that person in our lives. I know my mom and dad personally because I was raised with them, and my life intersected with theirs with regularity. I know friends and family personally. I know many of my enemies personally. All because of interactions in life, not words on a page or out of someone’s mouth.
So then, we might be able to re-phrase the question to better understand what it’s really asking. Maybe it’s better to ask “Can I experience God personally?”
Again, we must lean on what we know about God (from the Bible) to help us answer the question. And throughout the Bible, there are tons of people who experience God in various ways. If we take the Bible to be true, then we must answer in the affirmative that we can (that is, it is possible to) know God personally. In fact, the more we read scripture, the more we see that this sort of knowing (experiencing) is the kind God is most interested in. Read more, and you will rightly gather that his entire reason for interacting with mankind centers around this sort of knowing, or experiencing, of him. We might find that the end goal, the point of human existence, is indeed to know and experience God personally.
So, to answer the question. Yes! You can know God personally. In fact, that’s what he prefers, according to the Bible. The next question then, is “how can I experience God personally” or “why would I want to experience God personally.” We’ll deal with both of those later. For now, know that if you are looking for God, you will find Him. He’s waiting to introduce himself, all you have to do ask him to (and mean it).
If you have one, share a story of how you have experienced God in your life.
Latest posts by Antwuan Malone (see all)
- Courage in the Face of Persecution [sermon] - November 28, 2015
- 3 Strategies For Culture Change - October 28, 2015
- Four Lessons I’ve Learned From Serving In Young Adult Ministry - July 20, 2015