Later I would discover, very gradually, that that is one of the chief characteristics of love: it asks for everything. Not just for a little bit or for a whole lot, but for everything. And unless one is challenged to give everything, one is not really in love. Mike Mason


At one point in the gospels, Jesus speaks some really daunting and ear-catching words. Let me set the scene. First, he said that there will come a day when standing before him at the judgment there will some who will say that they a lot of great things in his name. They will tell him they’ve cast out a bunch of demons, healed a bunch of people, led multitudes to himself, even had Christian blogs on the Internet—basically did all these great works for God. They’ll be exclaiming, look at what I did Jesus, aren’t you proud of me! However, he will simply come back and state these haunting words, “I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23) Whoah! Once again, it’s Jesus turning things on its head—addressing something from a different angle and exposing a truth we never saw. What we think is true, may not necessarily be the case. With this story, we see that there will be a lot of people who are doing incredible things for God, but in the end, these folks will turn out to be essentially frauds. Jesus pinpoints where they lack—they lacked a relationship with Him. He simply says, “I never knew you.” That verse is intimidating and thought-provoking, because it lets me know that it might not be necessarily important that I know Jesus, but more importantly that he knows me. This then is the most important question: does Jesus know me?

But with that above verse, what does that mean on a day-to-day basis, that Jesus knows me? Today, churches emphasize that we need to “know God,” but how does it work for him to know us? First, think about this in terms of relationships. With relationships, one can stay on the periphery or you can enter into the experience of the friendship. You can know only the facts about someone and yet miss the essentials of the person. You can allow yourself to enter into the relationship or be held back. Think of it this way—I can know a whole lot about a person, but not really know the person at all.

I will give you an example of someone I know; I’ve known him for about three years. I know that he drives a Ford Explorer, has dark hair, likes to eat Mexican food at least once a week, has been married for twelve years, has a kid who is in first grade, roots for the Michigan State Spartans during March Madness, works in the accounting field. This is the first level of knowing someone. You get the facts. At a deeper level, I don’t know much more about him even though I have known him for nearly three years. For example, in terms of “knowing” this person: I think he is a good father; I think he has a decent marriage; and I think he is a Christian. The problem is—this is how close we have become, or better yet, how close, he has become to me. I really don’t know him at all. For the most part he has only given me so much about knowing him, and that has not been much at all. For all intents and purposes, even though I see him on a fairly consistent basis, we are acquaintances and not friends. On the flip side, I have opened up to him a little bit about myself. I have shared beyond the facts and shared with him some of my more personal stuff in an attempt to deepen our friendship. To put it simply, He knows me; but I don’t know him. I think this is what Jesus is trying to get at with that passage. We can know a lot about him, but in the same breath, not really know him at all. We can engage regularly with him (i.e., go to church every Sunday or read our Bible daily), but never vulnerably open up our life to him. I think what Jesus was getting at in this passage is that those who are like this hold back a substantial part of themselves from God and from others.

So with this, a trademark of a person who is just a servant is often held back in terms of their relationship with God. How do I know this? First, I know this because I was like this at one point in my life. Even now, I can sometimes continue to be held back in terms of my relationship with God—holding it at the periphery. Because of this personal experience, I can also see that aspect in others when working with them as a pastor or counselor. Remember every single day you need to decide—will I be “just” a believer in Jesus, “just” a servant, or today will I continue to move into a friendship with him. It is important that we know Jesus; but it is life-changing and vital that he knows us.

Here are some tough questions you may have to ask yourself. Ask yourself: are you simply acquainted with Jesus or do you genuinely know him? Are you simply following some of the rudimentary rules of being a Christian or are you actually engaging the living God? As the example I used above, do you just know a lot of stuff about God, but in reality really don’t know him? If this is the case, moving beyond just knowing Jesus, how can you let him know you? How can you better open up your life to him?

In: Friend to Jesus