The God We Can Know

This picture is 9 months old, but I still like it a lot. The little bald baby is my daughter Anastasia and the fluffy white dog is my loyal companion Zorro (right and left, respectively). The story of why our dog’s name is Spanish for “fox” will have to wait until another day.
These two are best friends, and they have an awful lot in common. They both love to play with balls and other brightly colored objects. They both love to lay down on us. They both love to eat things off the floor and try to snatch things from each other. 
But there are also some big differences. Ana knows me now and learns more about me all the time. As she gets older, her capacity to understand me grows, and as we spend more time together, our intimacy deepens. Zorro, on the other hand, knows about me, but can never really know me.  How could he? He is a dog, and I am a human. He loves me and I love him, but there is a gulf between us which can never really be overcome. 
Still, the chasm between Zorro and me is a hairbreadth compared to the gap between God and me. While I have left my chewing-on-things-I-found-on-the-floor phase several years in the past, I am still prone to make foolish decisions. I cook my food and he receives it in a bowl (or from Anastasia), we are both dependent on others outside of ourselves. Although I am the owner and he is the dog, we are both creatures who owe our entire existence to something Other. 

Meeting God

So if Zorro could never truly know me, how could I dare to believe that I could ever truly know God? How could a holy, eternal, infinite Creator ever be truly known by a sinful, mortal, finite creation? It feels like something both pious and thoroughly millennial: “I’m spiritual, but not religious. I don’t think we could ever really understand God anyway, these are all just people’s opinions.”
It sounds like a big view of God, but it is actually a very small view. It also sounds humble, but the person who is saying you can’t know anything about God is claiming to know that God is unknowable. The person who says this is really confessing that they believe God is unable to make Himself known. Christians do not think God is knowable because He is small enough for us to comprehend (Isaiah 40:18), but Christians do think that God is great and powerful enough to introduce Himself (1 John 5:20). Here is a theological principle worth learning: we can know God truly, but not fully. It is not really so strange. My daughter is still a toddler; fully thinking adult thoughts and understanding adult motivations are beyond her capacity. But the Daddy she knows is the real Daddy, even though that knowledge is incomplete. She wants to think like I think and act like I act (Psalm 139:17).
Psalm 145:3 is helpful: 

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

And his greatness is unsearchable.
We know that God is great. We understand that fully enough to praise Him; yet one of the things we must praise about Him is that we can never know him exhaustively. Like my daughter knows me better all the time, we come to know God better all the time. But unlike one human being getting to know another, God is a never-ending staircase where the higher we climb, the higher we can go. People ask what we could do forever in Heaven; coming to know God more and more fully is certainly one of the answers.

Soon, I hope to write a little more on the different ways that God has made Himself known, but this post is already a little long, so let me major on this: We can know God, and that is something to celebrate. Jeremiah 9:23–24 says:

23  Thus saith the Lord,

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,

Neither let the mighty man glory in his might,

Let not the rich man glory in his riches:

24  But let him that glorieth glory in this,

That he understandeth and knoweth me,

That I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth:

For in these things I delight, saith the Lord.