I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 11)
In 1984 I belonged to a group in a little Baptist church on the planet Mayorthorpe, called, perhaps too portentously, the Bridgebuilders.
At least once a month we would drive to Edmonton’s inner-city, be greeted by Herb and Henrietta Jamieson, and present a “gospel service” at the Hope Mission chapel. After the program, we would serve sandwiches and tea to the “street people”. Fresh faced and eager we would circulate among the men and women, occasionally young people, and, singling out those our intuition told us were most desperate and therefore most receptive to our question, we would sit down beside them and ask, “Do you have a relationship with Jesus?” or alternatively, “Do you know Jesus?”
There was a naÃ¯vetÃ© in the project, but our desire to see people “saved” and therefore helped in their life was genuine. Well, you may recognize yourself in some approximation of this scenario. And obviously my purpose is not at all to undermine any genuine desire to see people “redeemed”, or make light of evangelical gospel services.
What I want to do, if possible, is strive for greater authenticity in asking, “Do you know Jesus?” Let me turn that around, “Do I know Jesus?”
Why ask? Because I was confronted by the John 11 text. Confronted by Jesus’ words, “I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”
The words hooked me. I realized that Christian language has corroded this question for me. More to the point, I have allowed it’s corrosion. I have assumed that I knew exactly what, “Do you know Jesus?”, means. I have gotten lazy, taken the question for granted.
Now you may not be in this position at all. But I suspect there are those of us on the journey who need to reexamine the question. Not in any self-condemning way. Simply in open self-awareness.
It strikes me that unless this question reasserts itself, unless we can become reabsorbed, make the question, in a way, unfamiliar and challenging, we will lose something essential about our Christian faith.
So, how do I “know Jesus”? Outside of the gospels I don’t know how it would be possible. And outside of the resurrection, the gospels would not have come into our hands. So on a practical historical level, the resurrection is key to any knowing. But the resurrection is crucial for more than a historical record.
I’m already out of my depth in attempting a few thoughts that scores of theologians and authors have written scores of books about. nevertheless, let me try for a conclusion in tomorrow’s post.
Signed, Always biting off more than I can chew.