Reflections

What Does It Mean to Know Something?

By June 25, 2020 No Comments

What does it mean to know something? That question seems easy at first, but when you begin to consider it in more than just superficial ways, you realize that the question has levels of depth that can be difficult to fathom. For instance, it seems obvious that to know something requires, at the very least, the acquisition of knowledge.  But there are many ways that you can acquire knowledge.  None of those ways seem individually capable of giving you the ability to truly know something.  

Consider that knowledge can be acquired through reading, or observing, or going to a class, or listening, or through asking questions, or experiencing something, or through many, many other ways.  But none of these ways by themselves can give you fullest knowledge.  None of them allow you to truly know something.  Imagine reading about a person you’ve never met.  You may learn something about that person, but you don’t know them. Now imagine meeting a famous person for the first time while in your local coffee shop, and listening to them describe their favorite pastry. You know a bit about their voice, a bit about their temperament, and a bit about their taste in pastries.  But you don’t know them. Imagine experiencing a great festival in a foreign country that you’ve never studied, and enjoying all of the pleasures of that festival.  You know what the festival feels like, and you know a bit of the people’s culture, but you don’t know the significance of the festival, or understand its importance to its people.  Your experiential knowledge is an incomplete knowing. 

Interestingly, knowing something has a reward that far exceeds the experiential benefits of just possessing the knowledge.  Truly knowing something gives us purpose.  When we know our spouse, for instance, we can serve that spouse better.  When we truly know God in the fullest way, we can fulfill our calling.  This is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:16-19 that he is always praying for fellow Christians to know God better, so they can know better to what it is that they’ve been called.  

If you are a follower of Christ, you are called to serve God, and to serve people (Mark 12:30-31).  What are you doing to know God better so that you can pursue that calling and purpose more fully?  What are you doing to learn about God, listen to God, talk to God, or experience God? What does it mean to you to know God?

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