Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8 (ESV)
I love pie. All pies, with perhaps the exception of mincemeat. Those of you who know me best may have heard me respond to the question, “What is your favorite pie?” with a simple, “yes.”
At this moment, our home is filled with the aroma of two rhubarb custard pies baking in the oven. Mary and I agree that rhubarb custard is one of our favorites.
I can hear somebody responding, “Ugh, I hate rhubarb pie!” My response is, “Have you ever tasted rhubarb custard pie?” The sweet custard blends with the beautiful red blush and tartness of the rhubarb. You have to taste it to see for yourself.
“Taste and see!” That was David’s invitation to seek God.
That is also the title of the seventh and final chapter of my newly released book, God in His Own Image: Loving God for who He is not what we want Him to be.
What can we expect if we accept the invitation to taste and see if God really is good? To actually discover God as revealed in the Bible? I believe it will be the most transforming experience anyone can make. That was also Jeremiah’s conviction.
This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
Or the strong man boast of his strength
Or the rich man boast of his riches,
But let him who boasts boast about this:
That he understands and knows me,
That I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
Justice and righteousness on earth,
For in these I delight.”
Jeremiah declares that the highest calling—the noblest pursuit in life—is to know God as He truly is. Every other pursuit is a dead-end street. Our culture considers wealth, educational achievements and athletic prowess to be success. We often challenge our youth to discover their identity in these pursuits. (Some wealthy parents have even paid exorbitant amounts of money to bribe their children’s entrance into a more prestigious university.) Truth be told, money, intellectual or athletic achievements are nothing more than ladders leaning on empty space—destined to disappoint those who clamor to reach the top rung and discover no true satisfaction.
Jeremiah’s culture was no different. That is why he wrote the above challenge to the people of Judah. Because they had chosen to pursue lesser deities, they were facing imminent invasion of hoards of Babylonian troops. Then exile for the survivors.
The question we are considering today on the Front Porch Swing is “What’s the endgame if I ignore the challenge to know God as He is?”
First, we would miss the incomparable experience of enjoying eternal life. On the eve of His crucifixion Jesus linked the concept of knowing God with eternal life. Listen to an excerpt from His prayer recorded in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Can it be stated any more clearly? To know the one true God, as He has been revealed, is to experience eternal life! When we ignore Jeremiah’s clarion call to find our identity and our greatest passion in knowing God, we miss out on experiencing an incomparable life that never, ever ends. That is as serious as it is meant to sound.
Eternal life is more than simply living forever. I believe Scripture teaches that everyone will live forever. Obviously, we will not live forever in our decaying bodies but in another dimension of life than we know today. Eternal life is not only about the location where we will ultimately spend eternity, but it is also about experiencing eternal life here and now. Eternal life is quality life, not simply quantity. To know God is to love Him and to enjoy a relationship with Him. I realize that may sound a little too theoretical or mystical. How can I, the sinner and mortal that I am, even dream of experiencing a relationship with the holy and transcendent God? After all, who do I think I am?
Consider the first and greatest of all the commandments; it was an invitation as much as a command to love (to know experientially) God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. That sounds very intimate, doesn’t it? Jeremiah didn’t call for us to simply know about God. Instead he said, “understands and knows me, that I am the Lord.” Created, as we have been, in God’s image, we have an inherent passion to know our Creator. Our soul is hungry for God. Nothing less will satisfy.
With so much at risk how did we ever get into this rat race of trying to fill our soul hunger with wealth, fame or any number of substitutes? Paul described it in the first two chapters of Romans. They had the truth about God but suppressed it. They enjoyed all of the Creator’s benefits but forgot to be thankful. The fall, having begun in the heart, has affected their intellect and will. To fill the void, after voting God out, they created gods of their own choosing. The rest is history.
Listen to Paul ‘s description in Ephesians 4:19: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” (Emphasis mine.)
Can you imagine any more tragic, more haunting words than being “separated from the life of God…?” What began in their hearts and minds became a lifestyle resulting in a death sentence, and not just physical death but what the Bible calls the “second death”—to be separated from God forever. To know God is the greatest challenge and most fulfilling experience in life.
That is why I have written the book.