I know a lot of things. The same is true of everyone I encounter. A life of schooling, work, reading and general observation has the basic side effect of gaining knowledge. This knowledge is a tremendous asset in helping me to navigate life. My early years taught me that a red eye on the stove is not just pretty, but hot… twenty is a multiple of both 2 and 5, though not at the same time… all poetry doesn’t rhyme… and Johnny Stapleton is not as cool as first impressions lead you to believe. In this manner, all of life is a continuous collection of awareness of people, places and things. I suppose that in much the same way, I am part of the general knowledge in the brain of others – I am a person known by hundreds, if not thousands, of others.
However, there is a second level of knowledge. This goes way beyond awareness. It surpasses understanding. The best word I can think of to describe it is intimacy. While I have a general awareness/understanding as applied to a great deal of matters, I have an intimate, deep level connection with very little in life. This is something that I crave. It’s part of why I enjoy reading so much. It’s why I like to know why math formulas work instead of simply memorizing the formulas. It’s why I take the time to read the DVD manual. All of these tendencies are part of my desire for intimacy. In some ways, this is somewhat unique to my personality, but in other ways – specifically relationally – I believe this is universal. The desire for personal intimacy appears to be a deep seated craving of the soul. In this sense, a person is never whole in and of himself.
Perhaps this is the key to both heaven and hell – knowledge.
In the past, I have been troubled by 2 passages of scripture:
- “But whoever loves God is known by God.” – 1 Corinthians 8:3
- “Then, I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you, away from me…'” – Matthew 7:23
How is it possible that an omniscient God could claim to know some and not know others? I now believe that the answer lies in the differing levels of knowledge. For some, intimacy with God will never be realized ultimately leading to an incomplete life and the imperceivable existence of an incomplete eternity. We all know that it is possible to feel alone in the midst of a crowd. Perhaps the horror of hell is just that – the never ending pursuit of an unquenchable thirst for intimacy. We have all seen the effects of trying to find fulfillment in substitutes – alcohol, money, fame, sex. Many times, the corruptions of life begin by earnestly seeking to satisfy a God given desire through alternative sources. Imagine a never-ending existence in pursuit of something that cannot be found because the possibility of finding it has been eternally removed from scene… “I never knew you, away from me.”
On the other hand; imagine the eternal bliss of finally realizing the completion of the soul, being “known” by God; and as other scripture leads us to believe, “knowing” Him in that same way (1 Corinthians 13:12). I believe the world’s most secular poets, philosophers, artists and musicians – though accidentally – have offered more insight into the essence of heaven than our greatest preachers, prophets, teachers and monks when attempting to do so. You see, the rhymes, theories, pictures and lyrics that capture the human heart off guard inspiring us to thought, happiness and energy we did not even realize existed within ourselves are offering glimpses of the most pure hints at what will one day be ultimately realized – to be “known by God.”