I know about Abraham Lincoln. I want to KNOW God.

Jesus Christ taught many truths that explain Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and your place in it. I’ll focus on [one] of these to help you understand your identity as a child of God and know your purpose in life. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) (C. Scott Grow, “And This Is Life Eternal” April 2017)

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As a little bit of a history buff I was thrilled when my son said he was doing his 4th grade biography report on Abraham Lincoln—the greatest American president ever! Oh, the things we could talk about! Gettysburg Address, the Civil War, his assassination, his political failures before becoming president, the emancipation proclamation, and on and on. (Maybe you even sense from my writing how excited I became about this project!). Yes, it is true, I’ve read multiple books on Abraham Lincoln. I know a lot about him.

But it would be ridiculous for anyone to say I know Abraham Lincoln.

And this poses a bit of an interesting question. I know so much about President Lincoln because I have studied about him. And I’ve read a lot about the Savior too…but do I know the Savior, or do I just know about the Savior?

Why this matters

This differentiation is important. When offering the Intercessory Prayer the Savior taught,

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Note the words the Savior used. He said, “know thee.” That implies a more personal interaction with God than just knowing facts about where the Savior was born, where he died, and stories he taught. It means to actually know Him the same way we would say we know our friends and family.

How do we do that?

While there are many ways to come to know the Savior I will only focus on one idea.

King Benjamin taught us one of the most impactful ways we can come to know the Savior:

13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

15 Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:13,15)

King Benjamin was reminding his people that to move from knowing about the Savior to knowing the Savior they needed to find ways to serve. Earlier he had already taught them that, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17).

Reading our scriptures and praying are important steps in coming to know the Savior. And it is when we get out and serve others that we come to know the Savior by trying to act the way he acted. This opens our hearts to feel a closeness with the Savior that can’t come in any other way.

I’ll never really know Abraham Lincoln or any of the historical figures that I study, but through service to others I can come to know the Savior and feel Him close to me.

That path is open to me this week as I see those around me that are in need.