His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV, 1978)
The verse above is vivid evidence of God’s desire to be known by his creation. Peter was echoing the words of the psalmist who, hundreds of years earlier, gave us the foundational truth, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
For as long as I can remember, I have always heard that the prevailing question of humanity is, “What is the meaning of life?” Most attempts at an answer usually consist of a mishmash of humanistic philosophy, a random Bible verse or two and perhaps a dash of the American dream. Regardless of how intellectual we may try to sound in answering the great questions of life, the word of God is concise in showing us that the key to understanding life’s mysteries is found in one place—a personal knowledge of Him.
What does it mean to “know” God? Most Christians can quote the verse that says that even the demons know God and tremble at the mention of his name. Cleary, pure intellectual knowledge is not that to which Peter was referring. One of our students at Adult & Teen Challenge recently entered the program for the second time. When asked what was different this time, he said that his entire focus in his first eleven months in the program had been to simply learn about God. As it turned out, knowing about Him had not been sufficient to break the power addiction held over him. What had been missing, he said, was the power for living that comes from a relationship with God that grows of out that knowledge of Him.
I was fortunate to be raised in an environment where I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not know that God loved me. I have been taught the truth of Scripture since before I could read it. And, after more than 25 years of ministry I have come to understand that we do not lack for a knowledge of God in our churches. What we lack, and what I lack on more occasions than I dare mention, is the willingness to allow God to breathe His power into that knowledge to the point it affects behavior. Peter is clear that true knowledge is not reflected in a diploma on a wall, but to be expressed through a life that is both fruitful and holy.
In those moments when the fire of God’s Spirit burns within us, we can’t grow satisfied nor complacent with the momentary revelation of Himself within us. What He does within our hearts and minds gives us not only everything we need to live the abundant life He promised, but also to reflect His glory and goodness to a world that starving for both.