What is true spirituality? Let's assume that, for starters, true spirituality involves both knowing God and being known by God. In other words, it's a two-way street, a meaningful relationship, the kind of thing we all yearn for in our relationships with others.
Let's also assume that Jesus of Nazareth was arguably the most spiritual person that ever lived. The stories about him in the Bible make one thing really clear: he knew God and was known by God. So it makes sense for us to ask, what did Jesus have to say about knowing God? About being known by God? Here are some statements of his along with some comments.
- "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Gospel of John, 14:6). Wow! Do you realize what Jesus is saying here? If you want to approach God ("come to the Father") and know Him, then you have to do so through Jesus Christ. And, in light of the words "no one," it is only through Jesus Christ that you can fully know God. Why is Jesus so exclusive about this?
- "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Gospel of Matthew, 5:48). Another wow! In this sentence, Jesus is saying that nothing short of perfection is acceptable to God. This gives us a sense of who God is: a being who is perfect in knowledge, purity, justice, truth, mercy and love. It also gives us a clear sense of the impossibility of knowing him on our own. In other words, to know him, we have to be free of any thing that the pure and holy God calls unclean: things like selfishness, hatred, racism, unwarranted anger, dishonesty. All these things - and lots of other things, too - God calls sin. On another occasion, Jesus spoke about the uncleanness of such things: from within, out of the heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and they defile a person (Gospel of Mark 7:21-22).
- "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (Gospel of John, 3:17). Here Jesus breaks open some good news. In spite of the sinfulness of our hearts, God has taken the initiative to rescue us from that sin and its condemnation. God the Father sent God the Son to save us. As Jesus explained it (in the Gospel of Matthew, 20:28), he was sent to give his life as a ransom for many, to buy us back from sin and condemnation. Jesus paid the ransom, taking on our sinfulness and condemnation, dying on the ugly cross of Calvary in our place and for our sin.
- Let's put this all together with one final statement of Jesus. The first step in knowing God is to be known by him, to allow him to expose the deepest need of your heart, the guilt of your sin. Then, having been known by him, the second step is to trust Jesus Christ as the One who died for your own sin and condemnation. Turn away from any confidence you might have in any good thing that is yours: your skills, occupation, intelligence, strength, charisma, church membership - whatever! Instead, trust Jesus Christ as the One who rose from the dead for your eternal life. Jesus himself said as much when he stated (Gospel of John, 3:16), "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
So, the most important step in knowing God is to be known by Him, and to receive his Son the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord God and Savior. Read more.