Love is a risky business. In one way or another, at one time or another, we have all suffered because we have loved. We have all been shocked to learn something we didn’t know before, we have all been grieved as we have discovered another person’s hidden actions or behavior. Some of us have even asked: If I had known that before, would I have still loved her? Now that I know that, can I still love him?
We love people based on incomplete knowledge. We love them as far as we know them. But always we admit the risk of love. The risk of love is that new knowledge can jeopardize the strength, the trust, even the existence of that relationship. I didn’t know that she had lived that life before we were married; I didn’t know that he had a separate bank account and don’t know what it means; I didn’t know about his addiction to pornography. On and on it goes.
But God’s knowledge of us is completely different. It is completely complete. Where our knowledge of one another is limited, where it is built upon the little bit we know of the other person, God’s knowledge of us is unlimited by the past, present, and future. He already knows our deepest, darkest secrets, and he loves us still. And this is a profound comfort to us. J.I. Packer says, “There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love for me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.”
He goes on:
There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that he sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and I am glad!), and that he sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, he wants me as his friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given his Son to die for me in order to realise this purpose.”
God takes no risk in his love, because he knows everything about me. He knows all I have done, all I am doing, all I ever will do. He will never receive new knowledge of me that may cause him to question his determination to call me his friend. And for that reason, no relationship I have will ever be more secure than my relationship with him.
“Knowing God,” Packer says, “is a relationship calculated to thrill a person’s heart.” Does it thrill your heart that you, even you, are a friend of God?
If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read chapters 5 and 6 for next Thursday. If you are not yet doing so, why don’t you join us? We have only just begun, so you will not have a difficult time catching up.
The purpose of Reading Classics Together is to read these books together. This time around the bulk of the discussion is happening in a dedicated Facebook group. You can find it right here. Several hundred people are already interacting there and would be glad to have you join in or just read along.