Another angle of knowing God is to know oneself

Many people claim to know God but cannot prove beyond a doubt the deity they speak of. Knowing God is achievable by following the steps toward understanding. For those open to confronting the truth without bias, knowing God is not a challenge. The principle of learning any subject, including comprehending the nature of God, is consistent: the willingness to learn is crucial.

The inability to learn often stems from the belief that one already possesses the knowledge. The doctrine of the stable datum may convince an individual that the teachings from their youth are irreplaceable. A person might hold onto these teachings for no other reason than their traditional adoption in childhood, accepting them without personal evaluation or analysis. Yet, the only truth that matters is that which one has personally verified to ensure its validity.

A fact becomes true to an individual once they have personally tested and confirmed its applicability. As indicated in Genesis 1:3, the first step is to distinguish known facts from the unknown. Problems persist as long as there is no separation between knowledge and ignorance. Progress starts when one embraces the concept of differentiating what is known from what is not, thereby, reaching a state of being teachable.

This differs from those who claim to know, yet obsessively resist facts when emotionally defensive. Their beliefs are often based on unverified information. This approach was taken by the Jews, which led to the crucifixion of their Messiah. They were earnest in their beliefs, yet they did not substantiate their sources. They had received the Law and the Prophets without authenticating the origins of such laws. Jesus was unequivocal in His knowledge of the Father; He validated His identity as the expected Messiah through their own scriptural references.

It is peculiar that in life, very few individuals truly understand themselves or their origins. People tend to accept what they are told about themselves. Racial or tribal identities are frequently embraced as defining characteristics. Yet, these identities do not encapsulate a person’s true essence. What ceases to exist upon death cannot embody what was created in the image of God.

God informed Adam that he was made from dust and would, accordingly, return to dust. Thus, a person’s racial or tribal identity pertains to the transient, not their eternal essence. It is, therefore, incorrect to equate one’s racial or tribal identity with their true origin. In a dialogue with His disciples, Jesus broached the subject of His own identity. It was in this exchange that the concept of true identity was explored.

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20 NKJV).

Flesh and blood alone cannot unveil the truth about humanity’s spiritual origin. Jesus revealed the verifiable truth that had been concealed from humankind. Being the Son of God negates the significance of racial or tribal identities, which stem from the earth. These identities are often held as truths based on tradition rather than an understanding of one’s spiritual nature. The undeniable truth is that humans are created in the image of God.

This knowledge serves as a foundation for understanding various facets of life. Distinguishing humanity, made in God’s image, from earthly elements enables a person to shed misconceptions. Thus, one begins to connect with the Creator, distinguishing spiritual identity from physical conditions. The Scripture about human creation was explicitly documented after the formation of all physical elements.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27 RSV).

Only a person who deliberately dismisses the importance of Scripture would invalidate it. The image of God cannot be equated with mud or anything that perishes and is buried in the earth. God, being of a spiritual nature, cannot be compared to anything physical. Likewise, a person made in God’s image cannot be perceived physically but spiritually, in accordance with their origin’s nature. Thus, anyone claiming to physically see God would be untruthful, as God is not physically visible.

The undeniable truth is that one must become spiritual to claim knowledge of God. Yet, such a claim may lead to estrangement from the worldly. The true dispute that caused the Jews to reject Jesus was His claim to be the Son of God. They believed they understood God, but none knew their true origin. They had vivid Scriptural references but lacked comprehension. The apostle John declared that one cannot love God if one cannot love one’s brother.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also (1 John 4:20-21 NKJV).

Understanding that each human being is created in God’s image is not difficult when one recognizes the divine nature in another. This awareness applies to those who acknowledge the Godly essence in others. It leads to the understanding that to truly know God, one must look within oneself. This notion may be easily dismissed by those who view themselves as degraded.

Even when a person is in a state of degradation, they remain created in the image of God. Humanity mirrors the current state of degradation, a descent from the pristine divine creation. The pivotal question is how one can be redeemed from this fallen condition. While a person may find solace in degradation, it does not render such a state permissible. Often overlooked is a legendary Scripture, commonly recited by children, yet seldom embraced for its profound significance.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God(John 3:16-18 NKJV).

Scriptures reveal that God’s love for humanity surpasses His love for other creatures. By sending His only Son to grant believers eternal life He affirms human worth. God cherishes humans despite their fallen state. Thus, anyone claiming to know God should also love humanity in its fallen state. Observing humanity’s sinful nature, it might seem logical to condemn it.

The only Son of God, Jesus, declared that salvation comes through belief in His name. Yet, what does it mean to believe in Jesus? While some may advocate for a mere acknowledgement of His name, ignoring His teachings, some emphasize the importance of embracing both His words and actions. Belief in Jesus necessitates an understanding of His teachings and life.

He proclaimed Himself as the way, the truth, and the life, offering a path to the Father. Belief in Jesus transcends racial or tribal identities. Although recognized as a Jew, Jesus was primarily the Son of God. He instructed His followers to recognize no earthly being as ‘Father,’ reserving that title solely for their Father in Heaven.

Where does one go to understand God’s identity? The answer lies not in external journeys but in introspection, examining whether one’s condition is reflective of God. If made in God’s image, there is no need to search elsewhere to affirm God’s identity. Even if one is in a state far removed from divinity, the inherent truth of one’s origin remains the defining element of one’s godly identity.

The parable of the prodigal son illustrates the importance of this sonship. His fall from grace seemed to erase his original state. Yet, he recognized that none of his current masters could equate to his father. The thought of seeking forgiveness was not as compelling as the desire for his father’s acceptance, even if only as a servant.

Considering his fallen state, aspiring to be the least of his father’s servants seemed justified. His errant ways had degraded him beyond the status of any loyal servant. This self-assessment, though harsh, was not imposed by his father but by himself. It was this realization that empowered him to return to his father, with the hope of being received as a servant.

From that perspective, the state of humility was appropriate for one whose judgment is derived from godliness. He understood what was just as opposed to what was unjust. As the prodigal son returned to his father, something extraordinary occurred. His father chose not to punish him for his errant ways. Rather, he received him with a hero’s welcome, an act that seemed to contravene the tenets of justice, impacting his brother who had stayed faithful. A comparable event transpired at the crucifixion.

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43 NKJV).

Two characters are presented; one embodies blasphemy, while the other humility. Those of this world might give credence to the former, perceiving it as the mark of a brave soul. The latter, in diminishing himself, found salvation. This vividly affirms that true deliverance demands humility and the complete surrender of one’s pride.

Both criminals were subjected to the humiliation of the cross alongside Jesus. Despite the disgrace associated with crucifixion, the first criminal sought to cling to his dignity. In contrast, the second criminal accepted his humiliation. This underscores the enduring truth of the ancient admonition:

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8-10 NKJV).

The prodigal son’s journey began with acknowledging his sins, which brought him the humility to return to his father. This illustrates that knowing God starts with self-reflection on one’s sinful nature in contrast to the Father’s. Pride obstructs the path to knowing God. Thus, Jesus emphasized the necessity of surrendering all to approach Him.

Understanding God is crucial for salvation. One cannot truly know God without first recognizing oneself as a child of God. The common mistake is attempting to know God without self-awareness. This leads to confusion, despite a genuine desire for salvation. The first criminal on the cross sought salvation but failed to introspect. His pride masked his self-understanding, resulting in misplaced priorities.

God’s love is unconditional; however, it is up to the individual to choose self-discovery before seeking God. Cultural norms only muddle one’s grasp of their true self. Those involved in ethnic or racial conflicts act from a lack of self-awareness. God’s children are expected to see the world through His perspective. Understanding God is not complex; it becomes possible through the journey of self-discovery. This journey does not require the knowledge of others, but rather, an understanding of oneself.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99

 

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