“Do you know Jesus?”

November 15, 2010


“Do you know Jesus?”  Its one more way of asking the same question we’ve already asked: “When did you believe the Gospel?” or “When did you repent?”  “No” means you don’t follow Jesus, “Yes” means you do.  At least, that’s how things usually go.  We know Jesus at conversion and following that point we can always say we “know” him.  It makes me think of yearbooks.

I remember getting in trouble in 8th grade for writing “Spring has sprung, fall has fell, three more months and we’re back in hell!”  All of us have probably encountered the compulsory, “Don’t change!” and its derivatives in their yearbook.  “What?  Don’t grow?  Don’t learn?  Don’t mature?  Someone please tell me I have not retained as much of my prepubescent self my yearbooks would have had me retain…”

Something inside me wants to respond to the “Do you know Jesus?” question with an emphatic, “No!”  I find myself bucking against a knowledge of Jesus that is static, that leaves me in a prepubescent understanding of Jesus.  “Do you know Jesus?”  “I certainly hope not!” because too often I am reminded of how I seem to be perpetually casting him in my own image!  Too often I am reminded of my need to have my idols shattered that I might gain a cosmic Christ beyond any domestications of him I have produced.

So, how do we know Jesus over the course of our life and growth in him?  For this we return to conversion itself…

At conversion, when a person gives their life to Jesus and begins following him, they can have no other than a small understanding of their sin and God’s holiness.  Therefore, everyone has a small Jesus at conversion.  Over time though, our apprehension of both God’s holiness and our sinfulness grows, revealing an ever widening gap of need separating us from the Father.  So long as Jesus remains faithful to meet our need, we will continue to meet and know an increasingly large Jesus.  Personally I can speak of distinct moments in my faith when I’ve looked back and asked, “Did I ever really know you Jesus?  You are so great and wonderful as I know you now!”

So, is “Do you know Jesus?”  a bad question?  No, I don’t think it is, and here’s why.  That I should claim a knowledge of Jesus at any time is always resultant from his gracious self-impartation to a mind that will eternally struggle to know and understand him as he is.  Faith means believing he will continue to correct my knowledge of him so that one day I will not only know Jesus, but I will be like him.

The point is not that we relinquish any claim to know Jesus, but that we recognize our knowing him was, is and will continue to result from his continued work in us.

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