Wednesday, September 7, 2016

To Know or not to Know

The Greek language is rich is vocabulary to express sometimes to most nuanced details about nature. One such example is the difference between “To Know” and “To Know” and today’s Gospel reading is just the right way to express the difference.

Today’s Gospel Reading - Gospel Reading: Mark 1:23-28 (RSV)
At that time, there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
The Greek word ξέρω (I know a fact) is quite different from the Greek word γνωρίζω (I know someone in a relationship) and I believe the difference plagues our society today. Too many people know facts about God but do not know Him personally. The demons in today’s Gospel reading knew about God, but did not have a relationship with Him. To the demons God was just another angry dictator who had come to destroy them. In fact the demons did know ABOUT God. Unfortunately for them, they did not know Him as a loving, merciful, and saving God.

It isn’t just the demons who only know about God. Many believers who call themselves Christians know a great deal about God. They know He created the universe. They know He created humanity. They know He used to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden. They know He expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden after they dared to disobey Him. They know He nearly destroyed the Earth with a flood. They know He brought plagues upon the Egyptians. They even know He came to save us. But sadly most do not know Him personally. Their knowledge is limited to knowledge ABOUT God.

They do not know the peace it brings to be in genuine physical union with God. They do not know the joy it brings a heart to hear the whispers of His Holy Spirit during times of struggle. They do not know the freedom He offers them from the slavery to the passions of the world. They do not know Him as a loving Father, Sacrificial Son, and Life-Giving Holy Spirit.

Sadly much of the world has been fooled by the demons’ ‘pseudo-confession’ expressed in today’s Gospel reading that He has come to destroy. Sadly much of the world has been fooled into thinking that God is so angry with their sins that He demands the death penalty to appease His anger. Sadly much of the world has been fooled to think that God has taken away their freedom and forced them into submission. Sadly much of the world just doesn’t know God. They only know about Him.

That is where the GOOD NEWS comes into the story. God came so that we might actually know Him, not merely know about Him. He came that we could live physically united to Him, what we Orthodox call “in Communion” with Him. He came that we would no longer be bound only by the physical limits of His creation but share in His divine glory. Is it a “new teaching” as the witnesses in today’s Gospel reading ask? No, it isn’t new; it’s what He had planned all along. But you have to get to know Him to understand. Find an Orthodox Church and begin attending Holy Services where He is physically present. You might feel His presence for the first time. Don’t worry; you’re just being introduced to Him. Soon enough, you will know Him.

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