That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:10 KJV)
What does it mean to know someone?
It is quite funny, almost comical sometimes to hear people talk about popular or famous public figures as if they have actually met them and are their personal confidantes. They talk as if they are among the few who are privy to the intimate details of their lives. They will vouch for the authenticity of the information they are sharing but when pressed to reveal the source, it is either something they heard on Television or read in a magazine.
People go as far as owning and vouching for everything about the person, becoming so attached and willing to stand by and defend what they believe they know about the person. They believe wholeheartedly that they KNOW this public figure just because they hear him or her, read about him or her, sing his or her songs, fantasise about his or her life etc. They hang on every word he or she says. The most dangerous kind of public figures to idolise this way are the Christian public figures. Most often than not those who idolise them get traumatised by a negative occurrence in these public figures life as they simply cannot reconcile what has happened with what they believe they know about the person.
I say the most dangerous type to idolise are Christian public figures not because they are not deserving of public accolade but because they are not masters of their own destinies. Their anointing, skills, networks, organisations and very popularity are simply loaned to them and embedded in the grace of God more so than just their own hard work or merit. They are maintained by an invisible hand which cannot be controlled by any man.
‘The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up’. (1 Samuel 2:7 KJV)
‘He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them’. (1 Samuel 2:8 KJV).
So what does it mean to know someone?
To know someone is to be intimately acquainted with all aspects of their lives by the means which they themselves open up to you to the exclusion of others. Knowing someone is a private matter not a public one. There are facets of a person that are not for public consumption. They are revealed through the daily intricacies of life when opportunities for trust and private interaction abound so that such things as have been gleaned about the person can be subjected to the rigours of testing to evidence if they be real or not.
So someone came to Jesus and called him good master. He asked him, why do you call me good? He did not ask this because he was not good but because the person’s comment was flippant and baseless and shouldn’t have been said without him proving it first.
On the contrary when it came to his disciples he made the distinction clear. He himself asked them two questions. One was about who the public thought he is and the second was who they his disciples thought he is. You see there is a distinction between the two and Jesus knew it. What the public think you are is just near the truth but not the whole truth. What the people in your private life say about you is very important and you have to ask for it because it is the real measure of your journey. It shows you what to change and it reveals to you what you are really like because they KNOW you and if you give them the permission, they can tell you who you really are. Beyond this kind of knowledge, knowing Jesus involves having a personal revelation of his divine nature as the son of God, the annointed one of God sent to earth by God to reconcile the world back to God. The testimony of men and women alone does not bring this revelation. It is the testimony of God himself through the conviction that the Holy Sprirt gives which makes this ‘Knowing’ unshakeable, valid and authentic. Otherwise it simply becomes a case of hearsay and brainwashing. The proof of the taste of the pudding is in the eating of it.
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself; he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath ot the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:9-12 KJV)
The only way to not doubt that you truly know Jesus the Christ, the only way to prove it is if your belief in him cannot be undone by the arguments and the common sense philosophies of the world. Without this, your knowledge is vain and unreal.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ: not water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For, there are three that bear record in heaven, the father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (1 John 5:5-8 KJV)
Blood and water signify humanity. That is what we are composed of as humans. Unless our human capacity agrees with what the Spirit of God is saying about who Jesus, the Christ is, we can have no real enduring knowledge of him. He came by water and blood, in otherwords he was a man like us, but beyond that he was and still is the Son of God and that is the revelation of him that makes the difference between those who really know him and those who simply know about him, have learnt about him, have read about him etc.
So in finding out whether his disciples really knew him or not, he had a conversation with them which went like this;
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:13-18 KJV).
See, in the middle of this private conversation, Jesus also shared with Peter who he sees him as. He said People see you as a stone (Simon) but I know you as a rock (Peter). Peter’s answer to Jesus was succinct and precise, not attained via public means but by a revelatory process based on what he himself had seen, heard and experienced since being with Jesus.
Apart from private knowledge via the process of private interaction, there is a higher way to know someone. Jesus demonstrated this as well in the passage above. He told Peter, the knowledge you have of me was not revealed to you by flesh and blood (human beings) but by my father in heaven.
In this day of identity crisis, where people do not even know their own selves very well and wait for public affirmation to confirm to themselves who they are, it is important to have revelatory knowledge of people from God. Otherwise we hold in high esteem those that God does not and we disdain those who God is lifting up simply because we have no revelatory knowledge of them. When dealing with people it is important to pray and ask God, ‘please show me who I am dealing with’. Sometimes we do not even know who our real enemies are and who are friends or helpers of destiny are. Yes , it is important to know your enemies so you can locate the table God is preparing for you, because he will dress your table right in their presence and if you do not want to die before your time you better know where the battle is.
‘Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more’. (2 Corinthians 5:16 KJV)
Know no man after the flesh. God does not expect you to know him after the flesh either. And yes there are people who know God through Jesus but only after the flesh. They love what he did when he was here on earth. They love the fame, the popularity and the openness with which he led his life. They love the stories of the things he did and said, they can quote him verbatim and can even make profit off what they know about him. They can even tell others about him as if he were their best friend. But they have not really known him.
Paul mentions wanting to KNOW him in our main scripture at a time when he seemed to be the one who knows him best. He however did not define what that knowing entails but said that in addition to knowing him, he Paul will like to also know the power of his resurrection, and also know the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made comformable – modelled, redesigned, adjusted, re – fashioned according to the measurements and dimensions of his death. I don’t know about you, but apart from Paul and the other apostles in the bible I have never really met anyone in these modern days who wants their life adjusted, shaped, re- designed in conformity with death, even the death of Christ. To deserve to die like he did, nailed to a cursed cross, you will have to believe and say the non politically correct statements he made which will incite others to want to kill you. Who wants to do that? And even this kind of life, Paul considers as only an addition to actually knowing him. The actual ‘knowing him’ must really entail so much. Which is why towards the end of his life Paul was still saying things like;
‘Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13, 14 KJV).
It is only when you have followed unto the end that you can say you have really known someone. If you really know someone and accept them, even the threat of death will not compel you to turn away from them.
We must be willing to follow even unto death. That is the measure of a ‘calling’. The measure of a higher calling demands a higher level of following and a higher level of knowing.
‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him’. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3 KJV)
So next time you say you know someone ask yourself the question? What kind of knowing am I talking about? Also if they do not know you, you certainly do not know them. Real knowing happens as a transaction, as an exchange.
‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’. (Matthew 7:22, 23 KJV)
‘Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ’ (Philippians 3:8 KJV).
I tell you, Paul understood very well that he had to win Christ. It had to be an exchange. Real Knowledge of Christ is not just there for the taking. It has to be saccrificed for by a willingness to make yourself known to him as well, to win him.
Even the demons know Jesus. They have to for their own protection because, when he appears they know they are done for. So you who say you know him, do you really know him?
‘Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble’. (James 2:19 KJV).
‘Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded’. (Acts 19:13-16 KJV)