“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” (Galatians 4:8-9 ESV).
The Apostle Paul used an interesting turn of phrase within this passage: “…now you know God, or better still, God knows you” (CEV). This seemingly offhand remark should prompt us to ask a critical question: which of the following is more important- that we know God or God knows us?
Before we answer that question, let’s first consider a portion of Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount…
“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 NIV).
While statistics show that a majority of people believe in “God,” how many lead the kind of lives that demonstrate evidence for that belief? The answer is likely to be “not many,” for if the majority of those who profess to believe in God actually led the kind of lives that honored Him, the world would certainly be a different place. It was this kind of mindset that surely led to the following admonition from the New Testament epistle of James…
“Do what God’s word says. Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves. If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like. However, the person who continues to study God’s perfect laws that make people free and who remains committed to them will be blessed. People like that don’t merely listen and forget; they actually do what God’s laws say” (James 1:22-25 GW).
There may come a time when many will be surprised to find that Jesus is far different from their conception of Him. This is why our understanding of Jesus must be based upon the person we find within the pages of the Scriptures. A “Jesus” who is based upon some other source may prompt the following response from Him someday: “I never knew you.”