Why is God so hard to know?
“I am the bread of life” John 6:35
Jesus doesn’t say, “I have some bread of life I can give you” or “I can show you where to find it” or “I can give you the recipe”. Jesus says “I am the bread of life”. At heart, Christianity is not a philosophy to rationalise or a mysticism to experience. It is a person to meet.
This is something that both Christians and seekers after Christ need to understand. Getting to know a thing (perhaps a new gadget or mobile phone) is a one–way process. I can ask my questions, read the reviews, conduct tests and experiments etc. Then, at the end of the process, I can safely say that I know the gadget. It’s a one-way process. I certainly do not expect my new TV remote to start asking questions back!
But getting to know a person is very different from getting to know a thing. It must to be a two-way process – at least if any meaningful relationship is to develop. As well as talking to them, I must listen to them. As well as asking my questions of them, I must let them ask their questions of me. The dialogue has to go both ways. An I-you relationship is very different from an I-it relationship.
The Christian claim is that God is a person not a thing. That means if we want to get to know Him better the dialogue must be two-way. As well as asking my questions of God, I must allow Him to ask His questions of me. As well as coming with the issues that I feel are important, I must also allow Him to set the agenda in talking to me about things He thinks are important: even when those are things I don’t find easy or like very much. If I refuse to do that I won’t experience a real personal relationship with Him. At best I’ll find a thing or a theory – not a person.
This is why many people find Christianity frustrating. Perhaps they’ve conducted a long and thorough search for ‘God’ with careful questions and experiments. But have you ever tried getting to know someone by talking at them whilst sticking your fingers in your ears?
Fortunately, it’s very easy for us to find out what God wants to talk about. He’s put it all in one place. In the number one bestselling book of all time. The way to experience God in an intimate and personal way is to listen to Him (in the Bible) as well as talk to Him (in prayer).
When I was a little boy I was told that God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason! However much that may apply to our relationships with other people, it is certainly very good advice for anyone who would like to know God more closely.