A few times in the last couple weeks, I have found myself wondering, “How well do I know the Lord? How well do I know Him *really*?” I can go black and white pretty easily so my first reaction was to doubt whether I knew the Lord at all. But after more reflection I decided I probably knew Him in some ways but needed to grow in others.
To be clear, when I talk about knowing the Lord, I mean as a person. It is so easy for us to reduce Jesus to doctrines, traditions, history, practices, rituals, etc. In short, it is easy for us to reduce Jesus to things and to derive our sense of security and spirituality from them. In fact, we can end up using those things to shield us from ever actually knowing Him. I do not want to do that. But how often is my sense of being a Christian derived from my creed, faith-practices, denominational membership, even my political views and not from who Jesus is?
Matthew 7:22-23 has made every sincere believer sweat: “On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’”
We can fill in the blanks after “Lord, Lord” in many ways. “Lord, Lord, wasn’t I a Protestant? Wasn’t I faithful to Reformed theology?” Or, “Lord, Lord, wasn’t I Catholic and part of the true church? Didn’t I believe the eucharist was the real body and blood of Jesus?” “Lord, Lord, didn’t I reject all denominations and go to a church that just tried to imitate the first century church? Didn’t I believe in tongues and faith-healing?” Whatever credentials we try to present to Jesus, if we aren’t intimate with Him as a person, He will say, “I never knew you. Depart from me.”
I know that I need more than Christian things to be a Christian. As Jesus said, “Only one thing is necessary”—being with Him (Luke 10:42). I want to understand how He sees things so I can see the same way. I want to know what His reactions are in all kinds of situations so I can respond as He does. I want to share Jesus’s goals and visions. I want to have His sensitivity to others.
This all of course goes beyond knowing things. I can’t just know how Jesus would behave and imitate Him (though that can be a start). Jesus Himself must live in me and be all that He is through me.
My prayer the last couple weeks has been that the Spirit would help me start over in knowing Jesus. I can’t unlearn what I know, but maybe I can unknow what I’ve learned (if that even makes sense). He hides Himself from the wise and learned and reveals Himself to children (Matt. 11:25). I want Him to topple mere ideas or doctrines that keep me from Jesus Himself.
Please pray for me and with me in this. We can all stand to shed things that are in the way, spiritually. As the writer of Hebrews said, “let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). Amen!