But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:8-9)
St Paul talks about knowing God, which Christ says is eternal life: “And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17: 3). Knowing God leads to and is superseded by being known by God which implies a union with God.
St Silouan the Athonite offers a prayer asking God to let us know Him:
O Lord, teach us by Thy Holy Spirit to be obedient and sober.
Give us Adam’s spirit of repentance.
Give us tears to weep for our sins.
Give us to praise and thank Thee world without end.
Thou didst give us Thy most holy Body and Blood,
that we might live with Thee for all eternity,
and be where Thou art, and behold Thy glory.
O Lord, grant all the peoples of the earth
to know how greatly Thou lovest us,
and the wondrous life Thou dost prepare
for them that believe on Thee.
(ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, p 311)
St Silouan comments on knowing God:
The Lord’s love is made known in no other wise than through the Holy Spirit; but the peaceable soul that preserves a pure conscience comes to know God from His works, that He created heaven and earth. And this, too, is the working of grace, though as yet in small measure; whereas without grace we cannot come to know God with our minds but are continually drawn to the things of this earth – to riches, honor and glory and other satisfactions. (ST SILOUAN THE ATHONITE, p 357)
The “peaceable soul that preserves a pure conscience” is able to know God from creation itself as his or her (even ‘scientific’) observations leads him/her to glorify the Creator of all. However, this is grace as well. Without God’s willingness to reveal Himself to us we would not come to know God through creation. Without God’s grace, we approach the earth rapaciously for all we can take from it as greedy consumers rather than God’s creatures thankfully receiving God’s blessings.