Friday, October 28, 2011

UNDERSTAND AND KNOW

Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NASB)

What we have above is one of many Biblical statements that is jammed full of valuable insights. As a starting point for gleaning truth from this passage I would like to consider the phrase, “he understands and knows Me.”

Someone (who, I cannot recall) once said that we will generally find God in the radical middle. I have found that people too often swing in extremes. I use the word “radical” here to mean, “Pertaining to the root or origin; original” as opposed to a common usage indicating “outrageous” or “extreme.” In reference to religious movements we can swing from a fundamentalist perspective which emphasizes agreeing with information to a charismatic perspective which emphasizes experience. God is not accurately represented in either extreme but will be found in a perfect and beautiful balance that corrects and blends the extremes. This is likely why many are turned away from God when looking at such extremes.

The passage above reveals that God wants us to understand and know Him. The usage of two different words is significant. “Understand” would encourage a circumspect, intellectual, academic pondering of truth that allows one to construct an accurate view of God. “Know” would imply a relational, experiential dimension of knowledge. God is not looking for an either / or arrangement as much as a both / and arrangement. Some religious movements gather information and pass it along but shy away from (if not fear) actual encounter with the Living God, while others seek after experience but nearly refuse to engage their minds in any form of serious intellectual activity. Then there are those religious circles that do neither; stay away from them. When we manage to find a healthy balance in reference to understanding and knowing, we will more effectively approach that place where we will truly encounter and become equipped to please and to represent the Eternal, Personal, Creator Who is supreme and yet present, transcendent and immanent. We are not to remain little children who are tossed back and forth between extremes, but we are to grow up “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”

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