I spend a lot of time reading the works of dead guys because I find so much more wisdom in their voices than in most of the celebrity theologians of our day. There was a hunger and passion in their words that resonates with my soul and compels me to action. Here’s a recent example from J. C. Ryle (1816-1900): “Let us cleave to Christ more closely, love Him more heartily, live to Him more thoroughly, copy Him more exactly, confess Him more boldly, follow Him more fully.”
Is that the goal of our lives, indeed our every moment? Does it not quicken your pulse and stir your heart? If not, why not? Why do our hearts not ache for the knowledge of God like those who came before us?
The Christianity we practice today is a bland and watered-down version of what our forefathers practiced. Although the Bible teaches as much, if not more, about God’s wrath than His love, we abandon the wrath side of God altogether in favor of the more palatable “Jesus is love” version. That leads to not only a wrong understanding of who God is but also prevents us from living in a healthy fear of His holiness. We cannot only love the parts of God we choose because we find them conforming to our image of who we want God to be.
If we don’t love God for all of His attributes, all of His glory and righteousness, we don’t love Him at all. Imagine telling your spouse or children you love parts of them but other aspects you hate or choose to ignore. Love doesn’t work like that. We cannot love God fully until we understand what it means to find comfort in His mercy and to fear ever offending His holiness. Our God is the God of both infinite love and all-consuming wrath. If we want to live like Jesus, we must love all He says is good, and hate all that stands in contrast to that goodness.
To ache for the knowledge of God means we can’t pick which of His attributes we want to know better. It’s not like there are both good and bad parts of God. He is all good, all righteous, and all holy. Our Lord is no less holy in His wrath than He is in His love. He would not be the true God if He did not hate evil as much as He loves holiness.
But let us return to the words of J. C. Ryle. What is stopping us from loving Jesus more heartily, copying Him more exactly, confessing Him more boldly, and following Him more fully? The answer is always our pride and selfishness. We find it more desirable to pursue the pleasures of this world than the majesty of the King. We don’t ache for the knowledge of God because it means we would come to understand the consequences of disobeying and dishonoring Him. So long as we can keep the thoughts of His wrath at bay, we can go happily about our lives. This is the definition of living a lie.
If you desire to ache for the knowledge of God, begin by embracing all that He is. Fear His holy wrath and bask in His infinite love. Above all, surrender everything to the awesome God, the only way to eternal life and joy (John 14:6). The more you love Him, the more you will ache to be like Him. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-30). Obey His every command, and never forget what He has done for you. Confess the Lord boldly and follow Him wherever He leads, no matter the cost.