When asked what to study for the upcoming test, my favorite college professor would continually tell students, “be omniscient.” This attribute, the “all-knowingness” of God is something that has had my concern for quite some time. As a youth, my initial resentment to the concept came in response to assumed opposition to free will. What do my choices matter if God already knows I am going to make them? Fortunately, continued examination has brought new insight into this grandiose characteristic of the Divine.
In this case, I think the surface understanding of God’s omniscience is misleading. I have trouble believing that God knows the exact arrangement of every note of every piece of music that ever has, is, or will be written. I don’t think it is of utter importance that God knows the first word my finger strikes as I open a book to a random page. An entity that can instantly generate a given string of information is not God, it’s google. I think the all-knowingness of God goes beyond data regurgitation to something deeper. For this, we must consult scripture.
First, read John 4:3-30. It’s ok, I’ll wait. I’ve been meaning to google repair instructions for a 2003 Kitchenaid oven. Done? Good. Next, let’s watch a short clip. The video below (presented by Student Life Ministry) depicts an intimate modern interpretation of the conversation between Jesus and the Woman at the Well from the Samaritan woman’s perspective:
Here, performer Erin Moon speaks out the true nature of God’s omniscience, “to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.” In the John 4 story, this foreign (at least to Jesus) woman surely had quite the reputation; given her previous five husbands. If not for rampant gossip, the distribution of misunderstandings of her story, then why would our leading lady head to the well at the time chosen? She did not draw water at midday out of convince, on the contrary. She draws water at noon because she knows no one else will be there, doing the same, in the heat of the day. She comes to be alone. She comes to hide in herself, without the risk of ill-informed onlookers. She fails.
There she meets a man, a Jewish man, who is bold enough to ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink. Perplexed, conversation ensues until a climax is reached where Jesus tells the woman, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband” (vv. 17-18 NRSV). These words, spoken from a different source, could come off as harsh and judgmental. But coming from Jesus, someone who genuinely knows this woman, the words come out as a blessing.
Jesus proclaims these words without an exhortative finger wag, “LOOK AT YOU!” but rather with embracingly outstretched arms, “look, at you.” The Woman, astounded by her encounter, dashes back to town. There, she mentions nothing of living water nor does she lead off with the whole Messiah thing. Rather she announces, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” She is not amazed by Jesus’s record keeping; by the fact that he was aware of her past—the local women’s collective surely possessed similar abilities—instead, the Samaritan woman is amazed that Jesus knows her, for to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known. Jesus doesn’t bring up her past for some sort of ethical object lesson but rather mentions it in a compassionate display of empathy. Jesus doesn’t feel for this person, he feels with her, because he knows her.
I’m not convinced that the Lord has an 8-page report on the reality that I am currently craving cheese and crackers. However, I am convinced that the Redeemer is familiar of my propensity for late night snacks and is also fully acquainted with my fondness of extra-sharp cheddar. So while the Creator of all the Heavens and the Earth may not be aware of the details of my midnight munchie, Christ knows about it, because he knows me; for to be known is to be loved and to be loved is to be known.
This inspirational word was brought to you by Ben Wright of Grace & Main Fellowship.