I love cats.
Since my birth, I’ve had 60 cats that I remember by name. There was Coolwhip, Halftash, Yugly, Larry Bird, B-Cup, Lincoln, Klaus, Poose, Mrs. Bigglesworth, Tyra, Impy, to name just a few. And currently we have Dr. Bucko von Shpankenfloppy (“Spanky” for short or “Twenty Bucko” because he cost $20) and Minnie Puss Puss. In addition, there’s probably fifty-some kittens we’ve owned that we had to give away so as not to be overrun by felines.
So I know cats pretty well. I’ve definitely logged my 10,000 hours of spending time with kitties, which would make me some sort of cat expert according to Malcolm Gladwell. I am very good at translating meows into the human language of English. Seriously, I can.
But to really know a cat, I mean intimately know a cat (that sounds gross, I know), I’d have to somehow be on their level. As well as I know cats, I don’t really know how they think, what they think, or what they actually feel. I suppose to totally, empathetically understand one of my cats, I’d have to be transformed into…a cat. Only then could I “get” a cat, inside and out.
We talk about knowing God. Jesus said that eternal life is to know the one true God and His Son (John 17:3). Kind of a big deal. Yet we say God is ineffable, incomprehensible. But if Jesus prayed this in John 17, then we must be able to know God at least on some level. God has revealed at least some of Himself–in nature, in Scripture, and ultimately through Jesus, the first century Palestinian Jew.
So at what level can we know God?
Well, God is love, so to know God, you must be on His level, which is love.
You must become love.
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 Jn.4:8).
God can only be known through love.
You must be transformed more and more into love, which is what God is. The more love you are, the closer you are to God and on His plane of existence. Therefore, the more you can know God. I do not believe it is possible to know God at any level of depth while having a judgmental heart or harboring unforgiveness, bitterness, or hate. Love (and, therefore, knowing God) does not coexist well, if at all, with these dark forces. The more you are transformed into love, the less room there is for that which is not love–for that which is not God. Hence, you are a more clear and pure conduit of God. You are closer to being another Jesus, who was humanity 2.0, Love embodied.
Let’s look at some positive, tangible ways we can see this in life.
Think of the birth of a child, especially your own, if applicable. It is a magical/mystical moment. You can hardly put it into words. You’re filled with, and overflowing with, love. It’s a beautiful tunnel vision time, all of your faculties marshaled toward love and delight in this little, helpless, precious child. Your bursting with gratitude. Chances are, nothing else is on your mind or heart at this time. Nothing but overwhelming love, care, and thankfulness. There’s no room left over for anger, bitterness, judgment, or if you forgot to lock your car.
This is why you hear so many describe this as a “God moment” or as feeling close to God. Because you’re feeling nothing but love. I remember my aunt, who has no children, exclaiming at the birth of our first daughter, Gabriela, that if someone can witness the birth of a child and not believe in God, then they’ll just never believe. (Or something to that effect.)
Another example–I’ve read a fair amount on Near Death Experiences. Most all of them include being immersed in a sea of unconditional love, and then forever changed from that experience. They were immersed in God with zero distraction or pull from anything else. That’s when they felt closest to God–on God’s level.
How about making love? This is a spiritual experience, is it not? I mean, we call it making love. Again, we see that all our energies are singularly focused in this experience. For most of us at least. I don’t know about you, but I’m generally not thinking of what I need to purchase at Trader Joe’s while in the throes of passion. You’re totally focused on the other person and they’re focused on you. This is union.
Think of how you feel when you help someone or even hear a story of help, reconciliation, or rescue. How good you feel because it is transcendent. Anger, fear, hatred are off the table, for the time being at least.
To know about something, you study it.
To know what something or someone is actually like, you must spend time with it or them.
But to really know someone or something–how they think or feel–you must become it, or enter into it’s being, mind, or life. Or else their being, mind, or life must enter into you.
Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus… -Phil.2:5
It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. -Gal.2:20