Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Anglican Lutheran Lenten Reflections

Knowing God (Deuteronomy 4:35–39)

Daily Lenten Reflection - Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Week 2: Liberated by God’s Grace

Week 2, Day 4

“The Large Catechism,” Martin Luther

“A “god” is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true one. Conversely, where your trust is false and wrong, there you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, is really your God” 

Knowing God (Deuteronomy 4:35–39)

John Gibaut, Anglican, Canada

To you it was shown so that you would acknowledge that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, while you heard his words coming out of the fire. And because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them. He brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, driving out before you nations greater and mightier than yourselves, to bring you in, giving you their land for a possession, as it is still today. So acknowledge today and take to heart that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 

In the not-so-distant past, people used to say that the most important thing is “not what you know, but who you know.” With the advent of social media such as Facebook it is no longer who you know but how many people you know. There is confusion about what it means to know and to be known. Knowing about someone, or even having someone on a contact list or amongst one’s Facebook friends is not quite the same thing as knowing another person.

The root of the English word “know” is related to the Latin word cognoscere, which goes back to the Greek word gnosis. These words convey the sense of perceiving, recognizing, being familiar with another person. Here knowing and being known arise from a lived experience of another person, which leads to an almost intimate knowing of one another.

It is in this sense that the Bible understands what it is to know God, as distinguished from knowing a little or a lot about God. It is about the experience of God, and of being known by God. “Be still, then, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10), writes the psalmist. “Now I know only in part,” writes St Paul, “then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor 13:12).

The book Deuteronomy calls on the post-exodus people of Israel and their descendants to know God, to “acknowledge that the Lord is God” (Deut 4:35). The basis of their knowing was neither speculative nor theoretical, but historical, arising from their experience of being liberated by God: “And because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants after them. He brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power” (Deut 4:37).

The biblical journey is our own. To know ourselves as liberated by God’s grace is to know ourselves as loved and freed to become who we are, the daughters and sons of God.

“On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Anglican-Lutheran International Coordinating Committee has compiled a collection of Lenten reflections to commemorate the anniversary. The text can be used by small groups or individual, as a Lenten reading or as a resource for the weeks between Easter and Trinity Sunday. We are sharing these reflections daily during Lent, hoping that our common experience of God’s grace may draw our two families of churches closer together in this extraordinary year, and be used beyond 2017 and actually at any time.”