I have started participating in Bible study with a group of 11th and 12th grade guys (I know, I know, I'm a little older than the average member . . . .). We are starting by working through Experiencing the Heart of Jesus (Student Edition) by Max Lucado. Since I was out of town and missed the meeting on Monday, I didn't have a chance to discuss my thoughts on week one of the material, and thought I would share part of those here.
The guiding theme for the week was Experiencing the Care of Jesus. The readings were centered around God's love for us and the fact that He cares for us and has a plan for us. The verse for the week was 1 Corinthians 8:3. In the New Living Translation this is "The person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for."
I actually find the verse more powerful when coupled with the one that precedes it.
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
1 Corinthians 8:2-3 (This is from the New International Version, which is the translation that I keep here at the office, though I am starting to wonder if I should keep another translation here as well).
I love that. Our relationship with God is not about knowing, it is about loving. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we understand, that it all makes rational sense, that we know what we need to know. The truth is, though, as long as we trick ourselves that way, we will never "know as [we] ought to know." As it says just before the quote above: "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." 1 Corinthians 8:1
To me, this passage affirms that God is not looking for book study. Sure, it is a great thing to read and study the Bible, but God isn't all that worried about who can quote the most verses, or who knows just where to find that perfect passage, or who has read the Bible the most times. God wants a relationship with us. God cares about our love.
And that relationship, that love, goes both ways. God knows us (a whole lot better than we know ourselves) and cares for us. Think about that for just a minute. Really think about what that means. You and I are loved and cared for by the supreme being, by the creator of heaven and earth, by the alpha and the omega. As the Bible School song teaches:
He's got everybody here in His hands,
He's got everybody there in His hands,
He's got everybody everywhere in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.
That is Good News for all of us.