It is the start of the New Year and I wanted to suggest a New Year’s resolution to you this morning which I think would be very worthwhile. It is the resolution to get to know God better in 2022. It is a resolution which I would argue should be the distinguishing mark of every Christian. It is our duty and our joy to be called to be disciples of Jesus. And at the heart of discipleship is the idea of getting to know the one whom you follow. How well then do you know God in and through the person of Christ?
We need to be very aware that this knowledge of God is a distinguishing mark of Christian faith. Our Gospel reading this morning tells us ‘God was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him’. When John uses the word ‘world’ here he is referring to those who are not Christian. Those who do not know God through the life and teaching of Christ. Although God is in the world there are those who do not know God.
In fact this is the basis on which discipleship must be understood. In the reading from the book of Jeremiah we are told we are told ‘God will care for us as a shepherd does His flock’. Later in the Gospel of John we are reminded that the sign of a good shepherd is that he knows his sheep and they know him. So it becomes clear that the basis on which the Bible distinguishes someone who is known as a child of God, a follower of the christian Way, is as someone who is known by and who knows God. So I would suggest to you again that at the start of 2022 a resolution to get to know God better is a vital one for any Christian.
The subsequent question then is to ask ‘how do we get to know God better?’ And the answer is very simple indeed. We must spend time with God. Aside from this it is impossible to get to know God. For the bible tells us the sheep will know the shepherd’s voice. It is not that we can read about or study or learn ‘about God’ rather we must know God. Become familiar with God. And this can only come through time spent together.
How then do we spend time with God we might ask? I think perhaps the greatest insight into the way in which we are called to get to know God is in the story of the garden of Eden where God calls to Adam and Eve to walk with the Creator in the cool of the day! What a wonderful image. The Maker of all things walking with their children in the beauty of Creation. This is the image of why we were created. To share in moments of satisfaction and wonder with God. And in doing so to get to know God through sharing pleasure in what has been created.
Let us read once again the image of the Prophet Isaiah for the people of God …
It is not an arduous resolution then to call you as Christians to make time to get to know God better this year .. but i wonder how you will get on with it? When the busyness of the world of work and family life and a pandemic and of church rotas and club commitments set in .. how well will we do in making time to walk with God and get to know our Creator better. For so many this delight is lost .. ‘God was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him’ .. what a tragedy.
To make time for God requires discipline .. the root word for discipline is disciple. Both are derived from the root latin word discere—”to learn.” And what is key for us to remember is that we are not called to learn about God but to learn to be with God. That we might know God’s voice and be familiar with God’s ways.
This then is the call to Christian discipleship which I encourage you to embark on and be resolved to commit to in the year ahead. To know God better. And to do this through walking with God in the world. Not in a hurried way. Not in the midst of busyness and frantic activity. In the cool of the day .. at a pace which opens up the wonder and beauty of what has been created. To be disciplined enough to step back from the activity of the world and have moments in the marvel which unfolds when we get to know Creation as it was intended to be.
In 2022 make it your resolution to get to know God. Allow the life of the Church and turning of its seasons to be a means of supporting you in this endeavour. Let the colours of the altar, the celebrations of the saints, the sharing of the sacraments be a means for you to fulfill this resolution. May we walk with God this year. Let us be a Church which reverses the statement in the Gospel to read ‘God was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the Church knew Him.