If there is one thing I learned in seminary and continues to be revealed is, it’s not about me. So much of what I’ve been taught as young children in Sunday School has been that I have to do certain things. In Christian education, we can talk about three levels, what, how, and then why. As a child, I learned what fasting is, what prayer is, what the Bible is, and what liturgical praise is; and then we learn how to do those things, which are good and needed. However, when we stop short and do not move into the why, we run into some danger.
Christianity is more than just about being a good person. Reducing Christianity to merely just a way of moral living minimizes the incarnation and everything Christ did.
When my spiritual life focuses on what I am doing or not doing, I will either fall into pride or despair. Pride because I will equate my salvation due to my ability. Despair because if I’m not doing those things, then something must be wrong with me. What’s the solution then? Realigning my aim or focus on the right thing.
Christ, and not just Christ Himself but the Holy Trinity; Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. That is why Christ took flesh, to reveal to us the Father and send the Holy Spirit. God is not a magician. The sacraments, fasting, praying the agpeya, reading the Bible is not a wand I wave to make God do something for me. Fr. Anthony Coniaris, an Eastern Orthodox priest, said the following. “The sacraments are not the “machines of salvation,” or magical contacts that work automatically; they are rather personal encounters with Christ in faith.”
There is a difference between knowing things about God and actually knowing Him. “‘To know’ can mean different things to different people. Ask the man in the street if he knows the United States president, and he will say yes. That does not mean that he knows him personally; he has probably never met him personally. But it means that he is acquainted with who the president is. To be acquainted with God is a start but nothing more. To know Him in a personal way is what is needed. In the Old Testament, the verb “to know” meant intimacy of a relationship that often described sexual relations between husband and wife. “Adam knew Eve… and begat Cain.” To know God means not to know about Him but to know Him intimately and personally. How does one get to know God personally? The answer is by experiencing God through faith, commitment, prayer, repentance, silence, the sacraments, the Jesus Prayer, and His word. God can and does make His presence felt. He can and does speak to you in the silence of your soul. He can and does warm and thrill you until you no longer doubt that He is near. You cannot force such an experience from God. He gives it freely. He gave it to Abraham, Moses, and the saints. There is no one to whom God refuses His closer presence.” So the question follows, do you know God?