by Shelly Kim, History, PC ’15
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”
(1 Corinthians 2:2).
This is what Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians. His message is simple: salvation is in Christ alone.
In Jesus’s prayer for his disciples and all believers, he says, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Later in John 17 at the end of his prayer, Jesus says, “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:25-26). In those two sentences alone, the word “know” is repeated five times. Clearly, knowing Christ and knowing the Father is very important, as this is the last prayer Jesus prays before he is immediately arrested (John 18).
How do we know God? How do we know Jesus Christ and him cruicified?
- “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
- “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
- “fix your thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1).
- “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
But praise God that he does not leave us alone to try to figure him out. He reveals himself to us, through his Word, in prayer, through his Spirit, through fellowship with other believers, through his creation and his people’s creations—art, music, people, nature, literature, philosophy, etc.—and in whatever other way you can imagine. Though we will never fully know God in his entirety until we see him face to face, the greatest knowledge we can ever experience in this life is to come to know bits and pieces of the Lord. God, teach me more about you today. What would you have me learn?
There will be lots of people with different nuanced theologies, arguing for and against different practices, skeptics who doubt everything, and those who do not test the spirits enough. But what remains in the end? What remains when your entire life feels like it is crumbling, when your friends have left you, when your relationships begin to rot, when it feels like sin has taken a hold of you entirely, when you have not a clue in the world what your future looks like, when you feel utterly alone and deeply misunderstood, when nothing seems to make sense, when all the theology and nitty-gritty arguments no longer mean anything anymore…what is left? Jesus Christ and him crucified.
There are days, too often, when I doubt that God loves me. I doubt that he finds me beautiful. I doubt that he sees me. I doubt that he accepts me. I doubt that when he looks at me, he sees anything remotely redeemed. I doubt that he is “slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalms 86:15). I doubt that the spirit of condemnation is not from him.
In the moments I wallow in self-pity and doubt, I am essentially questioning (directly or indirectly) everything I say that I believe about God and his character.
But what I do know, what I can hold on to, is that whatever the kind of God he actually is, Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again. And THIS is love. THIS is grace. THIS is acceptance, sovereignty, beauty. THIS is redemption.
So when I pray, I pray “not to what I think Thou art but to what Thou knowest Thyself to be” (C.S. Lewis), I unintentionally impose constraints on God because I cannot fathom his character to its fullest extent.
I resolve to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. This is a scary prayer to pray. But may this be the prayer of our lives—that we resolve to know (and really know…not just with our brain, but with all our soul, all our hearts, and all our minds) nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.