Tag Archives: knowing

What’s Enough?

There’s a surefire way to get backstage at a concert: know somebody and get a backstage pass. No pass? No backstage. Don’t know anyone? No pass. When I was in the sound business, I routinely saw people plead with the security guard, trying to get backstage. They always had a story. “We were in a band together in high school; I know he wants to see me…” But the stories never worked. The only thing that worked was a pass, given to those who knew someone. I think about those desperate pleas whenever I read these sobering words of Jesus:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

It’s not enough to call Jesus Lord. It’s not enough to do miraculous things in Jesus’ Name, or to preach in a bold and prophetic tone of voice. The only thing that is enough Jesus said, is to “do the will of My Father in Heaven.”  Say what? Does Jesus mean only those who always do the will of God?   If not, then what does He mean by,  “…only he who does the will of God?”  Jesus gives a strong hint when He says, “I never knew you.”

The word, know, in Scripture frequently refers to a close, intimate and personal relationship. “Knowing” Jesus is more than knowing Who He is. It is more than wearing a Jesus T-shirt, or publicly claiming to be a Christian.  It has nothing to do with my doing amazing things for Jesus.  Knowing Jesus means entering into a close, personal relationship with the the Son of God. Because of Who He is, such a relationship begins with reverent humility and transparency.  In the words of the hymn, I come to Him “Just as I am, without one plea…”  Knowing Jesus includes a willingness for Jesus to know me.  Nothing about me is off limits in our relationship.

And that relationship, that knowing and being known by Jesus, is God’s will. And that – only that – is enough.


Down in the back roads of West Virginia, I met a man who had once known an old guy who fought in the Civil War.  He showed me the house where that guy had been born and had died in the same bed, with his Sharps rifle hanging on the wall.  Although it is unlikely, that guy could have met Abraham Lincoln.  Think about it: Who is your closest connection to antiquity, the person you know who goes back the furthest?

When John “sings his song” to the ones who have followed Jesus the longest, he calls them “fathers” and says this:

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  (1 John 2:13a )

When John “sings” to the newest Christians, he has a couple of different things to say.  Same thing with the “adolescent” believers.  But to the “fathers,” to the mature believers, John repeats this same reminder, word for word:

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.  (1 John 2:14a )

What does he mean?  Jesus is the One “who is from the beginning.”   In his Gospel, John opens with these words about Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.  (John 1:1-2)

If you could go back in time and meet just one person, who would it be?  Can you imagine having a chat with one of the Wright brothers, about what it was like to be there for the beginning of flight?   It would be cool to meet Ben Franklin, because he was there at the beginning of this country.  But how about getting to meet Someone Who was “there” at the beginning of everything?  He was not just an observer, but the Creator!

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)

John says that He was, that He existed, from the beginning!  He is eternal – timeless.  He is the One, Who “became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” (John 1:14b)

Try to wrap your mind around the enormity of what John is asserting here.  John doesn’t say, “You got to meet him.”  He says, “You fathers have known Him.”   Chances are pretty good that you have met someone famous.  There is a big difference between meeting someone and knowing him.   Knowing means having a deep and intimate relationship with someone.

John reminds those who have followed Jesus for a long time, “Don’t forget, don’t lose touch with this amazing reality, this great privilege.  Since the moment you surrendered by faith to Jesus, He has welcomed you into an authentic relationship.  And He is the One Who has always been.   Imagine!”

Talk about connections…

How Do You Know?

Before the leaves start turning, I check to make sure my furnace is going to work.  First, I need to know if the pilot light is still burning.  Because I can’t see it or hear it, I’d need to take the furnace apart to look.  But an easier way is to turn up the thermostat and wait a few minutes.  If warm air comes out of my heating vents, then I know that my pilot light is lit.   I can tell the condition of the pilot light, by the evidence of the warm air.

In the same way,

 We know that we have come to know him [Jesus] if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  (1 John 2:3-4)

Observe carefully, John does NOT say if you obey, then Jesus will accept you.  It says that you can be sure you “know” Jesus by the evidence of how you tend to obey His commands.  If you are as naturally rebellious as I am, you are probably thinking, “What’s all this about obedience?”  It goes back to what the word “know” means.

A friend of mine met a guy who was also canoeing along the shore of Maine, near where he lives.  No big deal, just two guys who happened on each other and were enjoying the same sport.  That is, until my friend found out he was chatting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Knowing who he was, changed my friend’s behavior. If the judge had asked him to do something he would have been more naturally inclined to obey, out of respect.  When you “know” that Jesus is God – Almighty God- and that He has told us some things we really ought to do, it will change how you act.  It just will.  That’s part of what it means to “know.”

But “knowing” is also a word that means “having an intimate relationship.”  When you enjoy a rich, fulfilling relationship with someone, and that person wants you to do something, you tend to want to do it, right?  Suppose your favorite uncle, the one who really took an interest in you from way back when you were a kid, wants you to take your shoes off in his house…   See what I mean?

That’s what John means.  If you have any doubt about whether you really have come to know Jesus, you could spend a lot of time analyzing all your thoughts and motives and so on.  Or, you could check to see if you tend to want to do what Jesus told us to do.  Simple.

There’s more to it, but we’ll get to that next time.