The degree to which we are able to know God is restricted for obvious reasons. Although we are too limited to comprehend the vastness of God, we can gain some understanding about Him from His creation and the Scriptures. Due to His grace and lovingkindness, we can marginally acknowledge His creativeness, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. In recognizing these godly characteristics, we humbly realize how very little we know compared to how much there must be to know about our God and Father.
However, the supreme essential aspect about God, according to His Word, can be known in an extraordinary way which far surpasses mere intellectual knowledge into an empathetic consciousness of Him. By empathy I mean the feeling that you understand and share Yahweh’s experience and emotions, having the ability to share His feelings. We can know experientially God’s love. To begin to understand this concept, we view Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reciprocal love, “I scratch your back if you scratch mine,” is common to everyone. God’s love is much different. When we love like He loves, we connect with Him on a level that truly makes us sons of God because we behave just like He does. To be “perfect” like Him is to lack in no essential detail, to have all the qualities needed. When we love like God loves, we experience an empathetic consciousness (awareness, appreciation, and understanding) of Him that we could never reach regarding His omnipotence, omniscience….
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36
When we are kind to the ungrateful and evil ones, our experience coincides with God’s enabling us to understand Him and His love. We empathize with the feeling He has endured for humanity since the days of Adam and Eve. There are different degrees of knowing someone or something. I recently read a book about Ronald Reagan that enhanced my understanding of Him. However, my new understanding pales in comparison to Mr. Reagan’s wife, Nancy, who experienced decades of life alongside her husband. Their experiences together provided her with an unmatched empathetic consciousness of our 40th president. One can gain much understanding about marriage and parenting from reading books on the subject, but you never really understand until you marry or have children. Also, the longer you’re involved, the more you understand. Experiential knowledge is much greater than mere intellectual knowledge.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
When we love like our God loves, we are born of Him and experience the heightened enlightenment that only empathic consciousness provides. The only way to know God on this level is to love our brother.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:9-12
Because God is spirit, no man has seen Him, but if we had seen Him, the level of understanding would not compare with the illumination enjoyed by His abiding in us. There is an enormous contrast with seeing and experiencing. The wonderful paradox of loving our enemies is they usually want to hurt us, but because of their hatred, they provide a great platform for us to experience an empathetic consciousness of God (which is without doubt the greatest blessing of all). God has endured much hate over the centuries but continued to love. When we love those who hate us, we understand exactly how our God has felt and acted. We then know Him experientially.
If your spouse hates you and you remain loving, you experience what Yahweh went through with Israel His “spouse.” If you are a parent of a disobedient child and remain faithful to love, you are just like God who has constantly endured and loved His wayward children. When Jesus walked the earth, he gained understanding about His God like no other because he always remained faithful to love all, even those who hated him. The abhorrence that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes consistently maintained toward our Lord and their hideous desire to harm him provided Jesus the opportunity to grow closer to His Father and God. On the cross he received the apex of understanding about His Father in the suffering he experienced by the hands of those he came to save. At that point, He knew God like no other could because he experienced the suffering of rejection and rebellion from the people he loved, and just like God, he continued to love.
Maybe when Jesus returns we will grasp the full greatness of our God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Right now, today, we can love like Him and experience this awesome empathetic consciousness with our Father.