Do You ‘Know’ God?
Recently, while reading a book, I came across some writings from a man named ‘Bernard of Clairvaux who was used by God within the twelfth century European church. Bernard suggested that the Christian life generally follows four levels of maturity:
Level 1– we love ourselves for our sake
Level 2– we love God for our sake
Level 3– we love God for God’s sake
Level 4– we love ourselves for God’s sake
I paused to ask myself, “where am I according to Bernard’s suggested levels” and “am I helping others get through these levels’ as well”?
I am able to understand it like this…
Level 1: ‘self-centeredness’… been there!
Level 2: thankful for what God does (did) for me– ie, salvation, stability in life matters, etc.
Level 3: learning to worship God from my heart– ie, singing with joy, serving Him with excitement, fellowshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ with an expectation of real change and growth.
Level 4: able to approach each day with an assuredness that God is ‘on my side’! ie: walking in victory over habits (addictions) that once controlled me and kept me hopeless of complete deliverance.
As I meditated on these thoughts by Bernard, I realized that what he really is describing is… ‘knowing God’! I believe God wants us to be able to face each day with a strength and confidence of knowing He is with us– each and every step of the way. I am reminded of several songs which we often sing that declare the same. ‘Because He Lives’ says… ‘because He lives, I can face tomorrow’… do we believe that? Do we live ‘loving ourselves’- for God’s sake… because Christ’s atonement has given us that ‘birthright’?
It is so easy to get caught up in ‘just getting by’ or seeing only what is wrong with life. It seems that many get close to reaching ‘level 3’- but never make it past there. I have been reminded that my job as a Christian, friend, husband, Pastor, etc. is to keep myself focused on Him and His strength and to help others progress to a point where they too can ‘love themselves for God’s sake’! It can seem like self-centeredness if it is not rooted in fellowship with God on a regular basis. The title of this article really sums it up– ‘Do You Know God?’ I would suggest that, if you do, you will be able to sing ’Because He Lives’ with an assuredness that He knows me and I know Him and nothing will keep me in bondage– nothing will keep me down– and nothing will separate me from God… ever!!
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