Why Knowing God Matters

Why Knowing God Matters

I teach a small group at my church each week. We’ve been following the current sermon series on the life of Jesus. It has been a wonderful time together as we’ve looked at the chronological life of Jesus through all four gospel accounts. Recently, our pastor took a couple of weeks to preach on other topics related to a church emphasis. I asked our group what they’d like to do during these two weeks. Several of them mentioned the names of God.

In much of the Western world, our names may not have much meaning ascribed to them. For example, my name is Karen and my mother named me Karen because it could not be shortened. It had no family significance; no meaning as to my character and to who I would become; just a name that couldn’t be shortened. When my son was born, his first name is his father’s name and my father’s nickname is his middle name.

In leading small groups through the years, I used to ask participants to introduce themselves by telling their first name and how they were named that name. I’d tell my story as above and then I’d invite them to share their story. Most of them were family or friend names and some didn’t know the why of their name.

Having taught Experiencing God many times, I remembered that there was a list of the names of God in the appendix of that classic work. I’d also taught Kay Arthur’s book, Lord, I Want to Know You, covering forty-two names of God. So, I decided that for two weeks, our small group would look at a couple of the names of God.

The first week, I did an intro and then started on one name. As our class time came to an end, I told the group I’d finish the first name and start the second one the following week.

As I prepared and taught these lessons, I was reminded how important God’s names are. I was reminded that God’s names are pictures of His character and ways that we can know Him more intimately. For example, Jehovah Rapha is the “God who heals.” It is first found in Exodus 15:26, during the wilderness wandering. The Children of Israel had been in the desert of Shur for three days without water. The first water they came upon was bitter and not good for drinking and they complained to Moses, who then complained to God. God showed Moses a piece of wood and Moses threw it into the water and the water was made pure. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you." Exodus 15:25-26

Another example comes from Genesis 1:1 and is the word Elohim. It is the most common word for God found in the Old Testament. Genesis 1:1 says, In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth. Elohim means power and strength. It is a plural word but it is always used with a singular verb when it speaks of the one true God. This indicates a unity and diversity within the nature of God, which is revealed through the Trinity.

As I taught my class the truths about God’s name I was struck anew by the awesome nature of our God. He has gone to ultimate lengths to teach us about Himself. He’s expressed His character through creation, nature, healing, protection, shepherding, righteousness, peace and more. He’s done this so that we might know Him. Listen to the Apostle Paul’s cry in Philippians:

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings … Philippians 3:8-10

In the New Testament, the word know or knowing is used to express knowing experientially. I know you on a deeper and more intimate level because of our experiences together. That is as true of friends, spouse, or God. Paul’s deep desire was to know God more experientially so that he could understand the power of His resurrection.

You may wonder what this has to do with leadership. Once we know and understand as much as we can about who God is and His earnest desire to have a relationship with us individually, we can more fully love and care about who He created us to be. When we do that and know that His plans, created for us before we were born, are perfect then we can more fully love and serve those that we lead.

Are you experiencing the fullness of God in your life and leadership? If not, why not? He’s made Himself more than available. If you are experiencing the fullness of God in your life, how has your leadership of others changed in light of that?






Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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