There is no one who knows God...
The picture of an atom in my daughter’s chemistry textbook are simple representations of something much more complex, but they are the best we can do. I mean, who can really comprehend the fact that the chair I’m sitting in as I write this is mostly empty space? In the same way, the triune designations of Father, Son, and Spirit represent a reality far more complex than we can really fully comprehend or explain fully, adequately, or even with the remotest clarity. While it might be hard to “know” the Triune God in a cognitively intellectual way that allows one to explain using empirical data precisely how the Trinitarian God exists as three-in-one, it is possible to experience something of the triune nature of Heavenly Father, the Word made flesh, and the Comforter sent to us as our Companion.
Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, else they might become like God, knowing good and evil. Nevermind that they were made in the image of God and so were already, in some sense, like God. But this “like God” was on a whole different level. Instead, they were to enjoy every other good thing that God had provided. In particular, they were to enjoy being in the close and personal presence of God. When they ate from the tree—both of them—their eyes were opened and the next time God came through the garden they hid in shame. The perfect shalom of Eden had been broken. They were like God in the best way that finite human being can be, but when they ate they suddenly not only knew “good and evil” in the way that God knew it. Even more, they experienced evil, and its consequences, firsthand.
There is knowing (cognitive perception and intellectual comprehension) and then there is KNOWING (personal, empirical evidence by way of experience). I wonder sometimes if there is a reason the Scriptures are given to us in large part as stories, poems, and letters rich with images, metaphors, and context-bound interactions between God and humanity. Perhaps there is a reason the Holy Scriptures are often unclear, imprecise, and sometimes even contradictory, leaving ample room for differences of thought and perspective. Perhaps it is not God’s primary purpose for us figure things out with intellectual acumen and theological preciseness. After all, even our most sophisticated intellectual, philosophical, and theological discussions are like the picture of the atom—simple and incomplete attempts to describe things far more complex than can be put on paper.
Perhaps what God really desires is for us to walk with God, and each other, with humble hearts and the realization that none of us sees everything clearly. Where some see with greater cognitive clarity others walk hand-in-hand with God, enjoying a greater degree of experiential understanding. None of us have all the answers; each of us has our own limitations and weaknesses. None of us know it all, have seen it all, or experienced it all, but when each of brings “all” that we have known, seen, and experienced to the table together, we are the Body of Christ. Not only does each part have its own function and purpose, but we each bring with us perceptions, perspectives, and personal experiences which, when taken together as a whole, create an image of God unlike any of us can experience on our own.
There is no one who knows God fully. Only together, in community, can we begin to see more fully the image and likeness of God, the same image in likeness in which we have been created.