One of the most overlooked elements of love is knowledge. St. Augustine drags this concept into the light by asking the confronting question, “who can love what he does not know?” However, many people love ignorantly in all areas of their life, and some Christians live as if the knowledge of God is optional if love is present. Perhaps this is a result of our culture’s capitalization on experience and feelings, or the fear of intellectualism. Perhaps it is because postmodern evangelical churches sees spirituality in highs and lows. Perhaps it is our own disobedience to and disregard for the Lord. Despite origins, the truth remains that the knowledge of God has a negative stigma in this age to many believers.
If you love someone you will take the time to get to know them. Why then, do we claim to love God yet not seek to know Him? F.J. Sheed says on this that, “A virtuous man may be ignorant, but ignorance is not a virtue. It would be a strange God who could be loved better by being known less. Love of God isn’t the same thing as knowledge of God; love of God is immeasurably more important than knowledge of God; but if a man loves God knowing a little about Him, he should love God more from knowing more about Him: for every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving Him.”
Throughout Scripture is the command to know God, to know about Him, to know His attributes, His works, and His Scriptures. John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God. Throughout Scripture there are many prayers offered that the children of God would grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Knowledge of God may start out in basics, but it should never end there, for the knowledge of God is something that increases (Colossians 1:10). Knowing God changes one’s view of sin, holiness, church, possessions, people– your very life will be shaped by the knowledge of God. J.I. Packer says, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were , with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
A flippant view of our command to know God is an internal threat to Christianity. Proverbs 19: 2 says that. “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Romans 10:2 echos this, saying ”For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” It is a beautiful thing to have a zeal for the Lord that stems from a knowledge of who He is. It is a folly and misstep to be blinded by passion with no thought of where to place it or why it is there.
If the greatest commandment is to love God with all our capacities, including the mind, and true love involves deep knowledge, then a causal view of pursuing the knowledge of God is immediate disobedience to the first commandment. How sinful we are when we fail to know God! It is a subtle evil of postmodernity that whispers that knowing God is not vital to loving Him. What foolishness– You can’t have one without the other! God is love, so knowing God is knowing what love itself is (1 John 4:8).
Be careful where you find your happiness, for this is where you place your love. Be careful where you place your love for this will determine how you spend your time. How your spend your time will reveal how much weight you give to your relationship with God. Do you seek to know Him? You will spend the appropriate time to do so and you will seek to know Him deeply. If you claim to love God you must also pursue the knowledge of Him. -M.
2 Peter 1:3, Hosea 4:6, Hebrews 8:11-12
Augustine, Edmund Hill, and John E. Rotelle. The Trinity. Brooklyn, NY: New City, 1991.
J. Sheed, Theology and Sanity (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1946), pp. 9, 10.