On Knowing and Loving, by John Mark Reynolds


"He is a great friend of mine," the man was saying, "A really fine fellow... Good old what's-his-name."

At that moment, I could not help but question the depth of their friendship. It is possible, of course, that he was suffering one of those memory lapses that grow all too common as we get older, but my doubt suggested an important point: You get to know the people you love. No one should trust a man’s claim to have loved someone for years if he cannot tell you the color of his beloved's eyes.

The early days of any relationship prove this further. When you have just fallen in love, time itself does not seem long enough to learn about the beloved. Shakespeare was right: the lover can be eloquent about even his beloved's eyebrow!




“You get to know the people you love.”



Of course, knowing isn't the same thing as loving. My wife, Hope, has blue eyes. Now you know that about her. But knowing it does not prove that you love her. If I love her, then I will know the color of her eyes, but you can know about her and not be in love with her. In other words, it is not true of anyone that "to know them is to love them." God is perfectly beautiful, but Satan saw God and hated him. And if it is possible to know without love even in God’s case, then knowledge must never necessitate love.

Knowledge does not produce love, but real love does produce knowledge. Thus, while one can know about God and not love Him, nobody who truly loves God would wish to remain ignorant of him. Love always drives us to wonder about the objects of our love, and this is as true of God as it is about a sports team, a friend, or the family dog.

Obviously, this means that no loving Christian would intentionally ignore theology: the study of the nature of our beloved God. You do not have to read theology to be a Christian, but an in-love Christian would read all the theology he or she could. Some theology may be beyond my ability, but, as a lover of God, I will do the best I can, and keep learning about him. And, just as many people master other languages in order to woo a person they admire, so God-lovers who can learn Greek will learn Greek to read the his Word in its original language.




While one can know about God and not love Him, nobody who truly loves God would wish to remain ignorant of him.



And loving God leads us to even more than this. You have likely learned these two things about God: that he is the Creator, and that he loves mankind. As a result, God-lovers will learn to love creation for our beloved God’s sake, and learn to serve the people He died to save. We will do science to follow his thoughts in creation, and study history to know what his people have done and what he has done for them. The cosmos was created by love and is sustained by love. And, since love creates wonder, that cosmos must be wonderful.

God loves each of us and knows our names. The Lord of Creation does not just feel kindly towards us, but knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us despite knowing all about us! Through Jesus, God made flesh for love of us, let’s turn to know him too.