Learning more about ourselves starts with knowing God

benekcj@hotmail.comMay 15, 2013 

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CASANOVA — MCT

If God is all-knowing, then God knows more about you and me than we know about ourselves.

This is why it is often said that in order to really learn more about ourselves we must begin to understand more about who God is -- because it is only by knowing God that it can be revealed to us who we really are as human beings.

If we follow historically orthodox theology, such reasoning seems to make sense. After all, in the book of Genesis (1:27) we are told that we are made in the imago dei, the image of God. This is not to say that we are the same as God, but it does mean we are, in some ways, more than just mere appearances, "like" God.

The early disciples of Jesus followed this logic as well, literally, as they sought to learn from Jesus as to how they were to act and be in the world. Understandably then, Christians today often tend to understand themselves as they understand Jesus. For many children, youth and adults, Jesus is the easiest way for them to understand something about who God is and thus begin to comprehend who they are themselves. Particularly for those who are newly seeking God, or simply ignorant about who God is, Jesus becomes the focal point.

Practically speaking, this is one of the reasons Jesus enters into the world to begin with -- to further communicate to us more clearly who God really is.

Countless books have been written on the subject since very early in the church. Literally, every day in the ministry I serve in, at least one person is trying to figure out who they are in relationship to God. So I don't suppose I might add much to that conversation here in 600 words.

But, while I think it is of essential importance that we seek to be in relationship to Jesus and know Jesus, I fear that the juvenilization of the Christocentricism of theologians like Karl Barth may have had some negative impact on the Christian mission as well. In some ways, underplaying the other persons of the trinity -- father and spirit -- actually minimizes our understanding of who Jesus is relationally.

How then, as people seeking revelation about ourselves might we better find understanding through what we believe to be the general attributes of God? How might we understand ourselves in the totality of the trinity when it comes to being good (Romans 1:22), gracious (1 Peter 2:2-3), or holy (Revelation 4:8)? How do we understand ourselves as persons to be both immanent and transcendent? What aspects of us as persons might be immutable (never changing, James 1:17), incorporeal (being in spirit, John 4:24) or infinite? How might our understanding of how God is jealous (Exodus 20:5-6), of how God is love (1 John 4:16), or even how God is sovereign, apply to us being made in God's likeness?

I rarely hear people talk about how they are like the creator God. And, I probably have never heard anyone try to explain how he or she is like the holy spirit. But, if God is trinitarian, and we are like God, then in some ways it is feasible to think we too are like all of the persons of God.

So relatedly, every week, someone asks me why they should bother reading their Bible, or why they should go to Sunday school, or a small group church study? Per the above, those are questions obviously answered in less than 600 words.

The Rev. Christopher Benek is the associate pastor of family ministries at Providence Presbyterian Church. Read his blog at www.christopherbenek.com.

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