From a message I gave at Eastside on June 24, 2012… Sorry it is kind of long but It’s on my heart and mind a lot lately…
1 John 2:3-6
My son Will who is 5 came home from his last day of preschool with this little booklet from his teacher that told all of the things he had learned during his year and one of the things he learned was the Pledge of Allegiance! I was excited but also blown away because this was evidently something he had learned early in the year and I had no idea… I said “Will! I can’t believe you can say the pledge to which he promptly recited it for me… Buddy thats awesome!! You never told me you knew that … He said well – you never asked if I knew it… He had me. Now I have asked that kid every day since he started preschool what he learned that day and his response was always – “Nothing.” But now I know I just have to be more specific in what and how I ask… which is going to get difficult when he gets past 3rd grade and knows more than I do… But until then – I can hang with him… And I too remember the Pledge.
Maybe… I mean I bet right now – if I asked for a show of hands of everyone who knew the pledge of allegiance just about everyone would raise their hand… What if I saw one of you raise your hand and we made eye contact and then I caught you out in the lobby and I asked you individually – Hey I saw you raise your hand but … confidentially, do you REALLY know the “pledge of allegiance?” – you would say “yes!” Right?? But what if I really challenged you and said well – I bet you know about it … I bet you know what it is but I bet you don’t really “KNOW it- KNOW it” … you might start getting testy and then maybe you would recite it to prove it because you do really KNOW it… Right?
But we aren’t hear to talk about the pledge of allegiance… what if I were to ask you by a show of hands … How many of you know Jesus? I bet most hands again would go up… “Yep. We know him.” But again… what if you and I made eye contact as you had your hand in the air… And I caught you in the lobby and I said – “Hey, I saw you with your hand up … but do you really know him?” Your reply… “Yep. I know him.” But what if I really challenged you and said “Well… I bet you know about him… I bet you know who He is but I bet you really don’t KNOW him-KNOW him.” I bet you’d get really testy with me… I think that would bug you. But just for discussion sake… how would you explain it? I mean, is it a list of “Well here’s the scripture I know. Here’s how many Sundays in a row I’ve attended church. Here’s my baptism certificate. Walk outside with me and check out the fish sticker on my car and while we are out here look in my car… see all of my radio presets? They are all the Christian radio stations and since there aren’t enough Christian stations – I put them all in twice!! Let’s drive over to my house and you can see my collection of tee shirts in my closet that cleverly convert a name brand logo into a Christian theme. And here… Here’s a list of every sin that I don’t commit – but even more important – all the ones that my neighbor does!! AND here’s the date of the last beer I drank before I got saved. AND AND AND Here’s all the good things I’ve done since becoming a Christian… and and and…
Or maybe you’d just get mad at the question and you’d say – “you know what… that is none of your business! ” And you’d be right… it’s not my business. It’s yours. It’s between you and God. But man a lot rides on how you answer that question every day – and you do answer it for everyone who sees you every day and you may not even be aware of it…
So first this morning – let’s talk about what it means to KNOW Jesus. To really know him. We are going to be in a very short passage that says a whole lot… 1 John 2:3-6.
Read along with me out loud…
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
So it’s a short passage we are talking about today – but it has a big implication. This little book of the Bible was written by John – he wrote 4 others – John, the 2 follow ups to this book and then Revelation. If you read the Gospel of John and then this book – you will see that John uses the word “know” a whole bunch of times – over a hundred times in fact. SO let’s start there first… what is he talking about when he says “know?”
First it will help for you to know a little bit about John. He was dealing very specifically in his writings with a movement called “Gnosticism.” It was a mixture of Oriental mysticism, Greek philosophy and Christian thought – and it was growing when John wrote his Gospel and these short letters. Without getting too much into what al of the details of gnosticism are – trust me that there are HUGE discrepancies that exist between it and Christianity. First, Gnostics denied that God was ever made flesh. Gnostics believed that the Spirit and the flesh cannot coexist. They liked the teachings of Jesus but they were certainly not His followers. Simply put what they believed in was and is a false reaching and John was specifically writing against it.
The gnostics considered knowledge – academic knowledge of God to be the only way to know Him and that was the most important pursuit of our lives. John in his writings is seeking to show that truly knowing God is not just an academic pursuit… Knowing him in your heart above your brain leads to personally experiencing Jesus. He is using the word KNOW to contradict the gnostics and tell everyone – hey… “knowing” – this isn’t what these other guys are telling you “knowing” really is… it’s not all about academics! You gotta experience Jesus to know Jesus!!
Now one other thing I will say about John’s use of the word “know.” Let’s talk about the greek form of the word… Greek is a tricky language and they put significant emphasis on which version of a word you used. A good example you probably know is all the different versions of love… You’ve probably heard some of them – agape, eros, phileo, eunoia… Just like love there are multiple greek versions of the word know. The one John uses most often and that he always uses in connection with Jesus … like when he says “by this we know we have come to know him” is ginosko. Hang on to that for a second… First, you have to know that the form of the word KNOW that the gnostics would have loved is oida… oida means to know the truth academically… Like by repeated study. Ginosko, the word John used, means more to know by repeated experience. Ginosko is exposure to over and over – constant, ever present, direct experience. It’s the same form of the word in Jewish idiom used to describe the intimate relationship between man and wife – as spouses know one another… Knowledge you ain’t gaining from no book learnin’ … if you what I mean…
Ok so no more greek I promise – so what does it mean in english? We are still in verse 3 here – he says we know if we are knowing him if we are over and over again yesterday, today and tomorrow and forever following his commandments… living our every day, every moment, every breath life for him and in him! Which commandments? When John says “his commandments” he is talking about Jesus and you know what Jesus said when the pharisee him which is the greatest of all the commandments? Read it in Matthew 22:34-40
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When John said we keep his commandments he is talking about – Love God, Love People. And Jesus is saying you do those 2 and you can’t help but keep every other law and commandment my father ever spoke! Period. How do we know we know him? If we are keeping those 2 commandments.
Academic knowledge might bring the not so flattering trait that we can point out everything wrong every other person is doing – but it is not really how you know – ginosko – know Jesus. Listen… if this Jesus for you is academic… if you know all the words, the rituals, the scriptures… If you just know them in your head and you are going through the motions because it is a head thing… I have some hard news for you to hear. You don’t really know – experience, observe – Jesus and He doesn’t know you. Jesus was on the pharisees about this all the time. They knew the scripture better than anyone but they didn’t know God. You could see this because they didn’t understand loving one another or what it looked like to extend mercy or grace or to introduce hope into broken lives – for them it was all academic and a matter of knowledge and rule keeping and seeking justice. They loved making sure people had rule book in their back pocket but they didn’t love people. I hope that doesn’t resonate with anyone here. I hope that sounds so completely foreign that it doesn’t even make sense.
In verse 4 he hits us again and says something even more strongly… in vs 3 you heard him say (here is my very boiled down version of it…) “if you know him you can’t help but keep his commandments…” now in vs 4 – he says – (again I am boiling this down here…) “if you say you know him but don’t keep his commandments you are a dirty rotten liar. Ok so – dirty and rotten are my takes – that’s not from the greek – but I can hear it that way in my head. It just has a ring to it… You want it even simpler? Don’t tell me you know Jesus when your life doesn’t show it because that is literally, 100% impossible! You dirty… rotten… LIAR!!!” Pulses are quickening… breathing is getting heavier… Gulp… whattaya mean Jason… Well –
You say you know Jesus but you’re having an affair or you are looking at porn or you are going to strip clubs. You Liar.
You say you know Jesus but you hate – insert that person’s name in your head right here -. You Liar!
You say you know Jesus but you care more for yourself than you do your neighbor. You Liar!
You say you know Jesus but you are polluting your body with drugs or food or alcohol that have become the thing you cannot live without. YOU LIAR.
You say you know Jesus but you have been holding a grudge for how long now? YOU LIAR!
You say you know Jesus but you gossip and say the most terrible things about people. YOU LIAR!
You say you know Jesus but you live in constant anger. YOU LIAR!!!
You say you know Jesus but you don’t trust GOD in every aspect of your life – your job, your finances, your marriage, your parenting, your… You Dirty. Rotten. Liar.
Any of those hurt? I bet some of them do… because several hurt me. Several of those bring me to my knees. Are you feeling mad at me for saying any of them? “How dare you say that to me!!!” you wanna shout? In reality though – it’s not me saying it – those are Jesus’ words … It’s Jesus saying it in Matthew 7:22-23 when he talks about the reality of what it means to know him… Lord, Lord – didn’t I say all the right things… didn’t I know all the right words, the right rituals… didn’t I wear all the right tee shirts, listen to the right music, memorize the right scriptures, have all the right bumper stickers… Didn’t I know you? “No – you never knew me and I declare, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:23 is the one scripture in the Bible that hurts my heart the most… Because there are so many people walking around with their Jesus card in their back pocket but don’t really him in their heart… Folks, this life is not a game of monopoly. We don’t get a Get Out Of Jail Card to cash in when the time comes. Knowing Jesus… it’s all the time, all the way, all or nothing.
The closing of this passage in vs 5- 6 addresses what all of those liar statements show a complete absence of. Love. This is one of my favorite passages in all of the Bible. Listen to it again …
but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
It is the simplest thing in the world to understand how to know if we are truly knowing Jesus. If we keep his word – God’s love is perfected in us. If we claim to know him – we walk as Jesus did. Knowing Him is walking in love just like Jesus did. It means that everything we do, everything we say, every minute of our life – is lived in love. Love as a verb-love. I mean think about it for just a second… If we truly live in love and pursue the love of Jesus and believe him that all of the commandments are met in loving God and Loving people… It’s impossible to separate us from him. We start taking those LIAR statements and turning them around.
I don’t cheat on my spouse with anyone else or by looking at stuff I shouldn’t or going places I shouldn’t because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I don’t hate my brother because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I care for others over even my own needs because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I don’t pollute my body with – you fill in the blank – because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I don’t hold a grudge because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I don’t gossip because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I don’t live in anger because I know Jesus and Jesus walked in Love and I walk in his footsteps.
I put my complete trust in God in every part of my life because I KNOW I AM KNOWING JESUS AND I KNOW JESUS WALKED IN LOVE AND
WALKING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS. Every Second. Every Minute. Every Day. Always. Forever.
Can you say that today? Are you ready today… to take whatever you are carrying that is keeping you from really knowing Jesus and just… lay it down. Give it up. Turn it over. To stop the excuses. Stop the justifications. Stop living your life as a dirty rotten liar and step into the truth of love, the truth of Jesus.
You can know him and He wants to know you too.