“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.”-John 17:25
People have a lot of ideas about God. Through the centuries, people and cultures have claimed unique knowledge of God. Generation after generation has interpreted scripture to their own ends. The Pharisees had clear ideas about who God was and they used scripture to back up their theology. They stressed the importance of lineage and of impeccable law keeping, but their ideas emerged from their fallen understanding of God and his word.
Over time, people have suggested that there is definitive biblical support for salvation by works, for slavery, for racial superiority, and for American exceptionalism, yet all of these viewpoints are distortions of the truth. Jesus told his followers that he knows the Father, “the righteous one,” the only one who is right and true. He also said that this world does not know God. We may believe that our ideas about God are shaped by an untainted understanding of scripture, but they are also influenced by our own cultures, biases, and proclivities. Despite our best intentions, our understandings of God this side of heaven will always be limited. Even the disciples, who glimpsed the true nature God in Jesus, had imperfect knowledge. In light of our limitations, humility is a necessary virtue.
Jesus, you say that in seeing you, I see the Father, but I confess that I am often gazing into a looking glass of my own making. Help me to see beyond my distortions, biases, and proclivities to your true heart, that I might worship the real you and not some facsimile of my own making. Amen.