To know ourselves, we must know God. And to know God, we must know ourselves.
The above statement is often attributed to John Calvin. But if I’m honest, I always found this profound saying a little hard to get my head around. I think I can appreciate that knowing God will help me to see myself more clearly. But, how is it that by knowing myself, I will gain a clearer picture of God? So what if I’m Caucasian and I eat my pizzas with anchovies? How does that help me know God better? Well, a few days ago whilst reading a book called Gospel Wakefulness (by Jared C. Wilson), I experienced a wave of clarity over this knowing self, knowing God business.
I was reading the chapter called Nonnegotiable Brokenness, where Jared beautifully expounded how God actually needs a type of brokenness in order for us to experience him more deeply. As John Stott claims, "We can cry 'Hallelujah' with authenticity only after we have first cried 'Woe is me, for I am lost.'". When we truly look into the unadulterated purity and holiness of God, we cannot help but discover the vast difference between his purity and our impurity. We cannot help but see the unequivocal gap between his wholeness and the deep-seated brokenness in our lives.
As my mind was engaged in this book, the Holy Spirit did a work in my heart. It might be weird to word it like this, but I’d call it a beautiful revelation of my own ugliness and sin. The reason it was beautiful is because it was entirely different from condemnation or accusation (things that Satan brings). It was beautiful because whilst I became aware of the weight of my sinfulness, I simultaneously was swept into the overwhelming joy of knowing that Jesus actually carried that weight for me already. He took my burden for me on the Cross! God didn’t snicker at me or condemn me, but allowed me an honest look into the old Ben – the sinful Ben that died on the cross with Jesus (Romans 6:6) and who is still dying every day until eternity comes (1 Corinthians 15:31). I actually found myself laughing through the tears because this truth was just so overwhelmingly good! That massive burden had been completely dealt with by Jesus – who willingly subjected himself to all of my pain and judgement.
I walked out of the room feeling so light (I didn’t even know that I was carrying a weight earlier). And I walked out understanding that knowing God helps me to truly know myself, and knowing myself multiplies into further grasping the beauty of God and his undeserved grace. As Jared says in his book: “The greater the brokenness, the greater the impulse to trust him. The greater the trust in him, the greater the joy of his salvation. So, then, the further to the end of ourselves we go, the more of Christ we will enjoy.” – Jared C. Wilson
I pray that God would give BPCC more and more revelation of himself; even if it means knowing more and more the reality of our brokenness.
Be blessed Church,
Ben Fien (Youth Worker)