We can learn about God, or we can understand God. The difference between learning and understanding is seen in the results. Learning is a process of accumulating data or information. It results in indifference toward our self, others, or God.
Understanding is an active knowing. It results in making a difference. We change, we help, we improve, we give goodness a strong foothold in the world.
But, if we are too busy “learning” about God, we have a difficult time understanding.
Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Wiesel, wrote in his book, “Night,” about his experience during World War II. After he and his fellow Jews were demanded to move, eventually to a concentration camp, Wiesel recalls his understanding was pushed to move. It seems, he realized he couldn’t just keep learning about God, he had to understand God, and himself, in order to live with meaning.
To incessantly learn about God, without understanding, is to daydream, to be like robots. It is to pray and worship with our favorite objects and books and words.
Wiesel wrote, “The beloved objects that we had carried with us from place to place were now left behind in the wagon and, with them, finally, our illusions.”
While imprisoned and praying with his fellow Jews, Wiesel apparently stopped trying to learn and actually understood a truth. He wrote, “My eyes had opened and I was alone, terribly alone in a world without God, without man. Without love or mercy. I was nothing but ashes now, but I felt myself to be stronger than this Almighty to whom my life had been bound for so long. In the midst of these men assembled for prayer, I felt like an observer, a stranger.”
It reminds me of Job. Please read in your Bible, Job 1:1-12
In the story of Job, it looks as though God and the devil make deals. It looks as though God is not infinite and all-powerful, because Satan has been given power.
Satan goes on to destroy Job’s family and heritage. But, verse 1:22 says, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
Chapter 2 talks about how Satan then attacks Job’s health. Three friends come to talk with Job as if it was a learning session. Job though, was trying to understand. Similar to Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel’s view of himself continued to expand. After being freed at the end of the war, he wrote his book, “Night,” and received a Noble Peace Prize.
Wiesel said in his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1986, “But I have faith. Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even in His creation. Without it no action would be possible. And action is the only remedy to indifference, the most insidious danger of all.”
God is understood to be a mind of active good. Our human minds need to change, to improve, to be activated by integrity and forgiveness, and spiritual courage.
Read Job 42:1-17
From 21st Century Science and Health*
As human beings do not comprehend even mortal existence, they must be ignorant of the all-knowing Mind and of the creation of Spirit.
Physical sense creates its own forms of thought, and gives the forms imaginative titles, before worshiping and fearing them. Often, the forms are attributed with abilities beyond themselves. Basically, the beliefs of the human mind commit self-robbery and self-enslavement and then charge the result to another illusive personification named Satan.
If the body’s physical senses were the medium through which to understand God, then paralysis, disabilities, blindness, and deafness would place people in a terrible situation, “Without hope and without God in the world.” These calamities however often drive human beings to seek and to find a more secure sense of happiness and existence in Spirit.
Final deliverance from error is not reached by taking the easy way. There are no shortcuts. Deliverance is also not experienced by attaching our faith, without works, to someone else’s effort. Whoever believes that violent anger is justified, or that divinity is appeased by human suffering, does not understand God. In our deliverance, we rejoice in peaceful honor, immortality, and spiritual freedom.
The custom of telling people, that if they take one doctrine and have total faith in it, they will be filled with the Holy Spirit, receives a strong rebuttal in the Scripture, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Faith, if only belief, is like a motor piston shifting between nothing and something, having no fixity. Faith, advanced to spiritual understanding, however, gains evidence of Spirit. The evidence rebukes mistaken mindsets of every kind and establishes the claims of God.
The distinction needs to be clear between God’s ideal, person, and the human’s idea of person. God’s ideal is perfect, however, there is no perfect mortal human. In order to achieve the ideal of God, you must be careful not to fall into the human mind’s tendency to believe that a particular human routine or lifestyle will guarantee spirituality. To insist on a particular human way of life as a means of achieving perfection, doesn’t achieve God’s ideal. For example, someone who thinks, “We do not seek sex; we do not try drugs; we do not take medicine; we do not go to doctors,” will be disappointed. To avoid sex, drugs, medicine, and doctors, is the same as robotically having sex, taking drugs, and going to a doctor. Neither are a means of reaching the spiritual ideal. The imperative point is to understand God’s ideal and let the divine understanding impel your thoughts and actions as a part of humanity. Our ideal directs our lifestyles, not vice versa. The teachings found in Science and Health, uncover spirituality and the understanding of God’s ideal.
God, divine good, does not kill humanity in order to give us eternal Life, for God alone is our life. It is evil that dies; good doesn’t die. No matter where you are in the universe, God is the center and circumference of existence.
The everlasting I AM is not bounded or compressed within the narrow limits of physical humanity, nor can Spirit be correctly understood through mortal concepts. The precise form of God is not very important. Ask rather; What is infinite Mind or divine Love?
Matter has no life to lose, and Spirit never dies. Matter did not originate in God, it is not absolute; therefore, not substantial, stable, or intelligent. Collaboration between matter and Spirit would ignore omnipresent and omnipotent Mind. The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind—that God is Love, and therefore Mind is divine Principle.
* Text from 21st Century Science and Health,5th edition, copyrighted by Cheryl Petersen.
 Eph. 2:12
 James 2:17
 The Unseen Shore by Thomas Simmons. Copyright © 1991 by Thomas Simmons. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.