“What I know is that I once was blind, now I see.”
If you grew up Catholic, you probably know about the Catholic religion, because you went to Catholic school and you had God as a class, you got a grade on God. Maybe you were a straight A student when it came to God. Or you went to religious ed, or CCD or whatever they called Sunday school at your church, and you learned your lessons there.
If you grew up Catholic, maybe what you knew about church was that it was boring and bad. And you began to equate your experience of church with God, so when you finally stopped going to church you gave up on God too. If you grew up Catholic maybe you thought, or were taught, that its all about rules and laws. And whenever it was you decided you weren’t interested in the rules and you had no intention of following the laws, you quit God too.
You knew about God (right or wrong), you just didn’t know him in a personal way, anymore than you know Abraham Lincoln or the Wizard of Oz in a personal way.
In the 9th chapter of John’s gospel we meet two very different kinds of people, who neatly illustrate this very point. One day Jesus runs across a man born blind and heals him of his blindness. This introduces a controversy in the community between the man himself and the religious leaders, the Pharisees, who immediately have a problem with the healing. Reaching out and helping this poor man, in the way Jesus did, actually violated the Pharisees’ religious rules.
The Pharisees are operating in a closed system of religious rules, which do not allow for change. In the process, they miss out on God. The man born blind, on the other hand, is working in a dynamic system of interpersonal relationships, which is all about change, growth, knowledge, development. In the process, he gets to know God. Relationships are always about change, we change as we grow in knowledge of the other.
God doesn’t want you to understand him, he wants you to know him.