Growing up in the church, I often heard people talking about what it means to “know God.” I assumed that they meant knowing about God, presumably from reading their Bibles and paying closer attention to our pastor’s sermons than I probably did. But when I was fifteen, I visited a buddy’s church, mostly because he told me about the girls our age who would be there, and something happened. Despite not having the best of motives, I loved the vibe of the church service and sensed God’s Spirit in a way I couldn’t even describe at the time. The joyful, worshipful atmosphere was different than anything I’d experienced at my own church so far. I wanted more of it.
When I got home that night, I realized that what I wanted more of was not my friend’s church. I wanted to know God—and sensed Him wanting to know me. Flipping through my Bible searching for answers, I turned to Matthew, where the red-lettered words of Jesus jumped out at me:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you.” (Matthew7:21-23, NIV)
His words echoed within my heart, and I ended up on my knees praying and surrendering myself to Christ. Something extraordinary happened then, and I felt the presence of His Spirit within me. In that moment He became more than the God I had read about or the Creator of the universe. He became my Friend, my Savior, my Heavenly Father, my Daddy. I loved Him and longed to know Him at a deeper level.
Fast-forward almost forty years later, and I find myself standing in front of people several times a week telling them about this God I know and His love for them. About His Son, Jesus, and the gift of salvation. About the Holy Spirit who wants to empower them and guide them. And what I’ve realized is that a lot of people are like I was on when visiting my friend’s church so long ago. They aren’t looking for church or religion, for good preaching or a friendly small group: They want to know God.
Now that I’ve graduated with degrees from Bible school where I studied the original languages of Scripture, I realize that the word Jesus used for “know” in that passage from Matthew is an intimate term. The Greek word is genosko and goes beyond intellectual knowledge or mental awareness to imply personal, firsthand experience. It’s the difference between “I know who the mayor is” and “I know who the mayor is, and he’s my best friend.”
This kind of knowing is personal and relational, familiar and deeply connected. It’s the kind of intimacy we usually associate with marriage. In fact, the Hebrew equivalent that we often translate as “know” refers to the way a woman knows a man before she conceives a child. The word’s emphasis is not on the physical, sexual dimension of knowing and being known as much as the way two people are connected and bound together spiritually.
Why is this important? Because God is the only One who can know you at your deepest levels. He made you and knows the purpose for which you were designed. He alone holds the book on your life and knows the number of your days. You can never find fulfillment and true lasting joy without knowing Him. You cannot begin to know what next step to take in your life without Him.
Knowing God is the key to life.
And it’s a lifelong spiritual journey. If you marry someone, your marriage doesn’t end after the ceremony or on your first, second, tenth, or golden wedding anniversary. It’s an ongoing dynamic relationship, a process of continuing to know each other longer and deeper, closer and closer.
Knowing God is quite similar. You can know His voice by praying, talking, and listening to Him. You can know His ways by reading, studying, and applying His truth in the Bible. Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, the fuel for your spiritual journey begins and ends with a real, dynamic, personal, close relationship with the Living God. Don’t just know about God—get to know Him!
How To Use This Book
Have you ever felt as if something were missing from your life? Are you longing for a clearer sense of purpose? Do you feel stuck in a spiritual rut? In What’s Next?, bestselling author Chris Hodges offers a practical guide to all those looking for clarity and direction and reveals the four steps to spiritual maturity:
- know God,
- find freedom,
- discover purpose, and
- make a difference.
He demonstrates how each step is part of both a linear path and a cycle leading to deeper levels of faith. Accessible and clear, concise and profound, no matter where you are in your journey, What’s Next? is the guide you need to find your way and discover the joy that comes walking the road of richer faith.
Also available: What’s Next 5 Week Video Bible Study and Study Guide – perfect for small groups, Sunday school, and new member classes.