Real Relationships: To Know and Be Known

Shot in the province of Sinai in northern egypt, tourists are silhouetted against the dusk

“Y’all like games?”

My wife Renae and I got married in 2005 and decided to travel the country a bit. We fell in love with the west and spent nearly a year of our three-year adventure in Glendale, Arizona. There was a small Reformed Baptist church in Phoenix we had heard about, so we wandered in one Sunday morning.

That’s always an awkward experience, by the way. You’re a stranger amidst strangers. Our goal was to find a seat quickly, preferably one near the door just in case. Renae and I surveyed the crowd during the service noticing there were virtually no young people. We weren’t sure if we’d be coming back the next Sunday.

As we headed toward the parking lot, we faintly heard behind us a “Hey guys! Wait up!” We turned to see another young couple. After introducing ourselves and chatting a few minutes, the next question was, “Y’all like games?” Before we knew it we had plans to have dinner that night and play card games together. Honestly, it was spectacular.

To you this may seem like a boring story of two couples meeting in an old church, but for me I am tearing up as I write. Garrett and AnnaMarie became so dear to us. Our friendship grew within weeks and today remains one of our most cherished relationships.

Why? 1) We love Jesus, our Savior. 2) We craved real relationships. We were travelers; they were lonely at church. We met a deep need in one another—a need to be known and loved.

Garrett and AnnaMarie were always real with us. They would listen to our stories of home intently and genuinely. They asked questions not Weto keep a conversation going, but to know us. We talked Scripture for hours. We cared about each other’s faith in Christ. The movies, the card games, the coffee were all just an excuse to be together.

It doesn’t matter that we haven’t seen each other in ten years, live in separate parts of the world, and have both added kiddos to our families. We love Garrett and Annie. We could pick up with them right where we left off back in Arizona.

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

Was this relationship unique, even rare? I don’t think so. I think it was a picture of what God intends for our relationships, especially among our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Acquaintances or friends to laugh with just won’t do. We want people who will shoulder our burdens; who will mourn with us when our loved ones die; people who value our thoughts and convictions; who will listen even when we aren’t making sense; who will forgive us; who will truly love us.

Yet, even the closest relationship is not capable of satisfying in us these deep-rooted longings. But God is. Ultimately, what we want from people we can have in God. Your best friend does not know how many hairs are on your head, but God has numbered all of them (Matthew 10:30-31). Your spouse cannot know all you’re thinking, but God knows all of your thoughts before you have them (Psalm 139:2).

Through Garrett and AnnaMarie we gained a better understanding of the way God knows us. One Hebrew word for know is yada. The meaning can be boiled down to an intimate knowing. It’s the way a husband knows his wife. It’s the way a mother knows her daughter. The word carries a sense of compassion—knowing deeply because one is valued deeply.

Consider this passage of Scripture:

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

God doesn’t know people like He knows traffic laws. He doesn’t know people even as He knows how many stars are in His universe. He knows people better than they know themselves.

But why would God know people like this? To God, people are not made up of facts, but of precious souls. He cares deeply about us! Who better to prove this than Jesus?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus demonstrates that God values you. His heart is to be with you. His end goal is not to clean you up and make you a zealous rule-follower. NO! His end goal for you is to know and be known by Him; to realize that you are known by Him more wonderfully than anyone else.

Let me pause and be clear: If you are reading this and have not yet trusted in God for salvation through faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for sins, then you are not known by Him in this intimate, rich way. Does He still care deeply for you? Yes. But you are not His child. He cannot know You as He knows His sons and daughters for whom Jesus died and rose again.

We are sinful to the core. God has never sinned before. He is holy. What’s the problem?

“What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of [the grave]?” (Psalm 89:48)

“What can man give in return for his soul?” (Mark 8:37)

No person or relationship, no matter how wonderful, can deal with our spiritual death before God due to sin. This is serious. If you long to know and be known, then you have to know God! Jesus has made God known beyond any other. Other religions and worldviews are mere guesses at who God is. Christ came out of heaven to once and for all proclaim the truth about God with clarity.

Consider this: Our relationships with people are only as rich as our relationship with God. Without Christ, people are valuable to the extent that they serve our felt needs or desires. With Christ, all people have intrinsic worth and value. No more do we see people as projects. No more do we flatter people for our benefit. Instead, we want to know and be known by others for their good and for God’s glory.

Father, thank You for knowing Your children so intently and so lovingly. Thank You for Jesus, who has brought us into the most intimate and wonderful relationship with You—not just today but into eternity! Teach us how to love and know people as You do. Help us to allow others to know us beyond the surface. May our relationships reflect You in this world. All for Your glory, Amen.

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