What If Jesus Doesn’t Know You?

What If Jesus Doesn’t Know You? September 6, 2018

Have you ever come across a verse and said to yourself: “Hmm…this verse can’t mean what it says because that goes against what I’ve been told to believe”?

If we’re honest, we probably come across verses like that all the time – if we’re reading the Bible on a semi-regular basis.

The other day I came across this verse and it stumped me for a second:

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Gal. 4:9)

Hmm…well, I can see that Paul starts to say that we have come to know God [which sorta lines up with my theology], but then he does something kinda strange: he backtracks and corrects himself and then says, “or rather to be known by God”, which is a little odd.

I mean, how can God not already know everyone and everything, right? Isn’t God omnipotent? Doesn’t God already know everything that could ever be known?

So, if that’s true, then what does Paul mean when he stops himself from describing our faith as “knowing God” and clarifies that what he actually means to say is that we are “known by God”?

Well, before you answer that, maybe you should look at this other verse where Paul sort of does it again:

If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” (1 Cor. 8:2)

Look at that. Paul, once more, emphasizes that the one who “supposes that he knows” actually “has not yet known as he ought to know” – which kinda starts to sound like Paul isn’t all that impressed by “knowing” God, or theology, or information.

However, Paul goes further to say that those who love God are “known by Him.”

Wow.

Maybe this does make sense, especially if you start to look at other places where Paul says that he considers all the religious knowledge and learning he once had as a Pharisee to be rubbish, or dung, compared to knowing Christ. He even went so far as to say that he resolved to know nothing other than Christ.

So, maybe what Paul has in mind is closer to a relationship with another person – where you know them and they know you.

See, nowadays, Christians tend to have an idea that their faith is more about knowing stuff about God and that usually means they tend to downplay knowing God.

Now, before you get upset at me for saying this, let me assure you that I have been told many, many times by dozens (maybe hundreds) of Christians over the last few years that it is more important to know the right stuff about God than to know God. Not only that, they usually go the extra mile to assure me that it is pretty much impossible to know God in any actual, intimate, relational way other than knowing the information about God that is printed in their Bible.

But Paul totally contradicts this notion. He actually says the exact opposite: Knowing God is not what it’s all about. Allowing God to know you is what really matters.

What’s the difference? Well, for example, I could know all sorts of trivia about Rick Warren. I could find out his favorite color, his birthdate, the name of his first dog, what elementary school he went to, his favorite ice cream, etc. and eventually I could become the world’s leading authority on Rick Warren. But, even if I did all of that, if Rick Warren bumped into me at the grocery store, he would not say, “Oh, hey Keith! How are you doing?”

Why?  Because even though I know all sorts of information about Rick Warren, I do not know Rick Warren.

It’s the same with Jesus. I could know all sorts of info about Jesus, but that does not mean that I know Jesus, or that Jesus knows me.

Want proof? Try this:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:21-23)

See? It is more than possible to not only know all sorts of stuff about Jesus but to even do amazing works for Jesus and in the name of Jesus, without really allowing Jesus to know you.

Please understand me: I’m not saying that we need to get right with God or get our doctrine straight. Just the opposite. I’m saying that we need to sit down in a quiet place and close our eyes and listen for the still, small voice of God. I’m saying we need to learn how to talk to God, and more importantly, to listen to God’s voice.

I want us to go back and look again at the verse where Paul says:

If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” (1 Cor. 8:2)

Notice that Paul emphasizes the need to love God? It’s not about knowing stuff. That has nothing to do with love, does it? As I said earlier, I could know everything about Rick Warren but not love Rick Warren – especially if I had never met him.

We need to meet the object of our love.

We need to spend time with the one we love.

We need to learn to fall in love with God, truly and sincerely.

Let go of your doctrines. Let go of your information. Stop trying to know God and start allowing God to know you.

Go back and read that verse one last time: “If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know” – does that describe you? Do you suppose that you know things about God? Are you the wise teacher who feels the need to instruct everyone else around you? If so, please consider Paul’s words here: Maybe you have not yet known as you ought to know. Maybe the kind of “knowing” you have achieved so far is just the ordinary “knowing” of information? Maybe it’s time to re-think what it means to “know” and to embrace the wisdom of “being known by Him”?

Does God know you?

Does Jesus know your name?

Let’s start by learning to love God. Why? Because God is love, and because “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Gal. 5:6)

Also, because Jesus says that “if anyone loves me…my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home in him.” (John 14:23)

That sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

[Spoiler: It is!]

**

Keith Giles new book Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”.

Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

BONUS: Unlock exclusive content including blog articles, short stories, music, podcasts, videos and more on my Patreon page.

 

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • jekylldoc

    This is vital. This is a key to unlocking rooms that have been locked for a very long time. We all need to give it more thought.

    I very much agree that spending time “alone” with Jesus is a big part of that, and confess I am rather bad at it. But I also think we know Jesus, and are known by him, when we venture to seek out the marginalized and to intercede with caring attention for the distressed. Where would Jesus be found? How do we get acquainted with our inner Jesus?

    If we just skim the surface (“Please bring food to all those hungry people”) and never have time for the actual problems involved (because we have serious problems of our own, dontcha know) then the knowing is just a passing acquaintance, a wave across a crowded room.

  • Matthew

    I´m wondering, though, how does one practically speaking move from a space of knowing about God to being known by God?

  • I have noticed quite a bit of talk (at least in Evangelical circles) about knowing God, rather than knowing *about* God. Nevertheless, these folks were, in practice, *very* adamant about having the right views on God. (For example, if you are a universalist or LGBT-affirming, you would be considered a heretic.)

    I also note that the ones most likely to spew the cliché “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship” and go on about “being in love with Jesus” are among those most likely to value doctrinal correctness.

  • Cynthia

    I hope it’s okay to comment here, even though I’m not Christian.

    The “know God” sort of language puzzled me when I first encountered it in Christians, because that was never the sort of language I learned growing up.

    Rather, I read the passage (again, as a non-Christian, FWIW) as a warning against false conceit. We DON’T actually know God, and as mere mortals, we can’t pretend that we do. I see something like the Book of Job as a warning against this – we humans really don’t see the full picture, we can’t explain why bad things happen, and we are seriously doing wrong if we try to do so and condemn others who are suffering. We are, however, given instructions in how to conduct ourselves, and THAT is what we are supposed to do. In less than 2 weeks, we will be reading the passage of Isaiah which talks about fasting on the Day of Atonement, and how going through the show of fasting without making real changes in how we treat people not what God wants.

  • Realist1234

    If you know someone, you typically know their views on certain matters. It is no different from God. So knowing God includes understanding His views on human life, such as universal salvation and gay sexual relationships, and acting accordingly.

  • Realist1234

    “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”

    – I dont think Paul stops and restarts, rather he is emphasizing God knowing us first. Only then can we know Him. Just as God loves us first, and only then do we love Him.

    It should be noted Paul here was specifically referring to people who had become believers, whether Jew or Gentile, who were tempted to return to their rituals etc, thinking that is how one finds or knows God. They were beginning to reject grace and returning to the law or its equivalent.

  • Markus R

    Indeed what a wonder to know and be known by God! How can we know God? Through the only reliable source—his Word. Yes, we can and should draw close to God in prayer and in meditating upon his truth. Indeed you can hear God’s voice audibly if you desire to—simply read the Bible aloud with the sure and complete assurance that He has spoken.

    I think you convey a true excitement that comes when we realize that God knows us. There is the discomfort that rightly comes when we realize that he knows our very thought, even before we think them—indeed he knows the very depths of our depravity. Nothing is hidden from him. The comfort is in this—he died for us while we were yet sinners! How can we describe such love that willingly chooses to love a rebel? The words of “Amazing Grace” come to mind.

  • The Mouse Avenger

    That is the best analysis of “knowing God” I think I’ve ever heard in my life! ^_^ You have a very keen mind! 🙂

  • Cynthia

    Thanks!

  • Matthew

    Your post reminded me that Judaism is so very practical. It´s not about a checklist of beliefs regarding knowing God, but rather about doing what God has asked of us. We Christians can learn a lot from this aspect of Judaism.

    [Edited]

  • Spirit Plumber

    Then I’ll introduce myself and see if we can work together. What’s the problem?