In a passage with a lot of local issues going on it Paul wrote, Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Now I know a lot is going on here and you might be wondering about food; what I want to focus on is the difficult reality of faith: we are people who hope for things unseen and believe realities that are completely outside our experience; all while accepting that we never fully arrive in this life.
What I really want to reflect on is the idea that no matter what we think we already know Paul suggests we have more to learn. Obviously this is true as the old adage that the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know claims. At the same time don’t we want to grow in knowledge, especially knowledge of the things that matter most? Such as why there is something rather than nothing, what humans are for, what I am for? Is there a God and if so what are They like? You can add your questions to the list:)
In that Corinthian passage Paul moves from the mind (knowledge) to the heart (love) and suggests this is the key to being known by God. That sounds weird because we also think God knows the number of hairs on our heads quite independently of our love for him. That little conundrum aside, I think Paul is on to something and it relates to our prayer lives. Where we can study and learn all we want, at the end of the day the point is union with Jesus, to abide in Him and Him in us.
In my (limited) experience, many faithful people know plenty about God but struggle to feel that they are loved by God or to love God. I am not sure I have ever met or heard about a single christian who came to experience that love (either towards or from) thanks to study. Don’t get me wrong, I think study is important, but without prayer and love it is a bit like the music on a page without ever hearing it, or the description of the taste of a peach without ever tasting it, it is hopeful but partial at best, and we would quickly grow weary of hearing about music or peaches regardless of how enthusiastic someone else is about them.
My prayer for you, if you are on the journey of prayerfulness, is that you would be bold and patient in your pursuit of prayer and that God would reward you not only with parking spots (if that’s what you pray for because we all know God cares about the small things as well as the big things) but I pray you would experience the sense of being loved by God and feeling that God is one who maintains his promises to you and whom you can love. Anything less is just wearisome Christianity.