“Knowing God without knowing our own wretchedness
makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness
without knowing God makes for despair.
Knowing Jesus Christ strikes the balance because
he shows us both God and our own wretchedness.
Wretchedness induces despair.
Pride induces presumption.
The Incarnation shows man the greatness
of his wretchedness through the
greatness of the remedy required."
Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Knowing God and Knowing Ourselves
Everyone needs something that keeps them going--a drive that presses them on. For some it is their families. For others it is their job. Still others have a hobby or love of sports that keeps them motivated. All these things have an important place in my life, but the greater motivation is described in the Bible in several ways: "Christ in you the hope of glory" "to know you and the power of the resurrection" "crucified in Christ...therefore Christ now lives in me" "you shall be my people and I will be your God." All of these Biblical phrases can be summed up by saying that my greatest motivation in life is knowing God. But to know God, I must know myself. And to know myself rightly I must know God. This is what Calvin says at the beginning of his Institutes. Blaise Pascal shows how Christ is central to this knowing God and knowing ourselves: