Some individuals seem to know a lot of people. They have a gift for making friends. It’s a great gift to have if the friendships are more than superficial. But the really important thing is not how many people you know, but who you know, and how deep that knowledge is. God is the greatest possible person in the universe and knowing him is the greatest possible knowledge you can have. But how can we be sure we really know God? Different people see him and understand him in so many different ways. Could our knowledge of God just be a case of mistaken identity?
Mistaken identity happens all the time. It’s often of little consequence, but at times it can be a serious matter. What if, for example, someone mistakes the identity of a criminal for a police officer? That could be very serious. Or what about a butcher for a brain surgeon? You get the idea. Mistaken identity can be a very serious thing.
The greatest case of mistaken identity in all of human history occurred when Jesus Christ, very God himself, was mistaken for a blasphemer. This was a tragedy of immeasurable proportions, Yet, this unimaginable mistake happens every day when people see Jesus as merely a great teacher or a just good man or a mythic figure. Many people see him in these ways. But even Christians mistake the real Jesus for one they have fabricated out of popular traditions or false expectations they have of him. How cold such a mistaken identity ever actually happen?
When you love someone you think about that person. They are in your thoughts. So, when you think about that person you are thinking about them in terms of their attributes in some way. This largely goes on without our notice. But what do we mean by an attribute? An attribute is a quality or a feature regarded as characteristic of someone or something. When you think about someone you love, you are thinking about that person as being funny, or smart, or kind, or some other attribute that holds them in your heart.
Likewise, when we think about God we think about him in terms of his attributes. But when we think about God and ascribe to him some attribute he does not have , or distort some attribute he does have, we are not thinking about the true God, but one of our own creation. We are involved in the greatest possible case of mistaken identity. We really have to be careful how we perceive God and the sources of that perception. We want to perceive him correctly, though no one perceives him perfectly nor fully. We want to be in touch in our hearts with the true Jesus, the real Jesus. How can we be sure this happens?
We see the attributes of God revealed in Scripture. They’re not always easy to discern. It takes a commitment to spending time in the word. As we learn these attributes displayed in the real lives of real people in the Bible and apply them to the circumstances of our lives, we come to know the true God. Knowing God does not happen overnight, it takes time and work. Relationships alway take time and work.
We read in Colossians 1:9-10, “We have not stopped praying for you asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
It’s important that we never stop praying for ourselves and others that we grow in our knowledge of God. We pray for many important things as we pray for others, but few things can be as important as this prayer. Paul prays this prayer for the believers in Colossae, but we can and should pray this prayer ourselves. The prayer itself is that the ones we are praying for are filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding or discernment. Knowing the will of another person means that they either explicitly tell us their will or that we know them so throughly that we intuitively know their will without them telling us. God tells us a lot of his will in the Bible, but some things are not spelled out for us, thus we need spiritual wisdom and understanding. We get that by spending time with God in his word and in prayer.
Paul goes on to give us the purpose for being filled with knowledge of God’s will. And that purpose is, “so that” we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. There are four dimensions to the one purpose in being filled with the knowledge of God’s will. When we know God’s will we have the potential of walking (living our lives) in a manner worthy of the Lord. What does it mean to live in a manner worthy of the Lord? It means living in a way that is consistent with his will. When we live in a manner worthy of him, he is fully pleased with us. We can stop and think, “Is my life fully pleasing to the Lord?” If it’s not, does that diminish his love for us? No way! He always loves us! But if we love him, we want to please him.
Paul goes on to say that we will then bear fruit in every good work. You can see how this develops. We first take the time and effort to know God through his word , praying to him and being filled with his Holy Spirit. That results in us being filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. This results in us living in a manner worthy of him and therefore pleasing him and bearing fruit in every good work. But there is one more dimension to being filled with the knowledge of his will. We increase or grow in the knowledge of God. This is where we began, by knowing God. Now we know him more and more, better and better, deeper and deeper. When this happens our love for him grows and our joy in him grows.
Knowing God as he truly is, we humbly submit to his will. He is glorified and we are blessed. There is no mistaken identity. God overtakes us and reorients our hearts and lives to his person. Praise be to his name!