How Do You Know What You Know?

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Your faith in God takes all your days and then some…

I’ve just spent the week trying to explain a very abstract concept to my students. The world that we’ve made to live in, a world full of relationships, expectations, rules, feelings, organization and dreams is as real as the natural world all around us. The guilt your dad can make you feel is as real as that river rushing by. But as real as it is, it’s socially constructed, so…unlike the rainstorm that hits at just the wrong time, our man-made reality can be changed and improved.

I encounter God in dozens of ways each week. He reveals himself through social experiences with family friends and strangers.

What we come to believe about God is planted in us by all the people around us our whole lives. Our parents, teachers, friends are essential in helping communicate to us what it means to believe. These people and the social institutions they inhabit (family, church and friendship) are all used by God to strengthen our grasp of eternity.

What we know about God comes from other people. We often expand what we believe as we grow and add new experiences to our menu. As we meet new people and increase our general and specific knowledge of the world around us, our experience of God changes. God doesn’t change. That’s what get’s confusing. As we change, we mistake that experience and come to believe that God is the one that is different.

When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind.  For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture. But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God.  But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love.

– I Corinthians 13:11-13 (The Voice)

  1. Are you growing up (maturing) in what you know and experience about God? – Do you need to stop what you’re doing and START doing something different, right now?
  2. Do you understand and communicate to others that what you do know is only partial? – If not, change the way you are speaking. If you can’t hear the way you are speaking, ask your spouse to tell you. Stop talking so much and start listening to others. Stop feeling like you have to solve other people’s problems or have an answer all the time. You don’t really have to be God’s number one spokesperson. Just be you. Be authentic.
  3. When you experience God and pass this on to others is it characterized by faith, hope and love? You aren’t trying to fix everyone, are you? Everyone needs more of these gifts. Are you getting out of your private world and spreading your experience to others?

“Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame… at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.”  ― Rainer Maria Rilke

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