My son was asking Bible questions to me the other day. One of the things we were talking about was how important it is to know and be known. You can pick any famous or political person you want for this. What all do you know about them? Do you know their family member’s names? Habits? Likes? Where they live? You can usually know a lot about them, but do you know them? You may have met them, but chances are they don’t remember you even though it was a memory you’ll never forget. The same can happen with us and God. We can read His Word and be able to answer any questions about Him, but do you truly know Him? Jesus said there would be people who would even do things in His name, but when they die, He would say He didn’t know them. A Christian isn’t someone who knows about God. It’s someone who knows Him and He knows them back.
In Acts 19, Paul was on a missionary journey winning the lost, healing the sick and casting out demons. There was a group of Jewish priests who had seen. Him do it and decided they wanted to follow in Paul’s footsteps. They traveled town to town too. They knew all about God because they were priests. They had seen God work miracles and believed in Them. In verse 13 they said, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” (NLT). This demon spoke back and said, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” The possessed man them beat all seven of them up and sent them away. They found out that it wasn’t enough to know about Him that day. To have the power that comes from Him, you must know Him and be known by Him.
In John 10:14 Jesus said, ““I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” The scariest words in the Bible are, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” There are going to be people who get to Heaven having done a lot of good in the name of Christianity and Jesus, but they will be turned away. They read their Bibles and studied God, but never took the time to get to know Him or to be known by Him. That kind of relationship isn’t a one time meeting. It takes constant communication from both sides in order to know someone. We must be people who pray and listen to what God is saying. Christianity is a relationship with God where you get to know Him and He gets to know you. The more time you spend with Him, the deeper the relationship will be. How well do you know Him? How much of yourself have you shared with Him. The more vulnerable you are, the more you will be known by Him.
Have you ever had a boss who had no idea how to do what you do, and then tried to tell you how to do your job? I’ve had my fair share of those. Early in my career, I determined that when I rose to the rank of manager I would take it upon myself to learn each job in the store so I could better lead them and understand them. I spent a week at each position, which didn’t make me an expert, but went a long way towards being empathetic to what each team member went through. It also helped me to be able to teach them and new employees going forward. I’ve always believed credibility was a key component of leadership, and I wanted to have it.
Credibility is also a key component of faith. Think of the seven sons of Sceva. These men tried to cast out demons “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches.” One of the demons retorted, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:13-15 NIV) Those men wanted to power of Jesus name without taking time to sit at His feet. They’re not so different from so many people today. They want to bear the name of Christ without reading His Word, spending time in prayer or applying Scripture to their lives. Faith is not something you talk about, it something you must live in order to be credible talking about it.
Ezra was a good example of a credible leader. Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart (resolved) to study and interpret the Law of the LORD, and to practice it and teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (AMP). He didn’t just read Scripture, he studied it, interpreted it and applied it. So when it came time to teach it, he was credible. God honors our faith when we take the time to study, interpret and apply what He’s told us to do. He then puts us in position to teach others and to help them grow. Your credibility comes when you move past the knowledge piece of His Word and start applying it. When you do that, you can speak with confidence and authority.
Several years ago, the company I was doing a store visit for the company I work for. The store was very busy and there was about a thirty minute wait to see a rep. I was making sure everyone was helped in order and was adding them to the queue. A blonde lady walked in with big sunglasses, leopard print clothes, and a small dog in her purse. When I told her she had to wait, she said, “But I’m a VIP!” I said, “I’m sorry, ma’am. Who are you?” She told me her name, but I didn’t recognize it. I said, “I don’t know who you are, but you’ll have to wait like everyone else.”
She asked for a manager. She insisted she was a VIP and didn’t wait in lines. The manager went through the same thing and gave the same answer. Finally it hit me. “Do you mean you’re a part of our VIP program?” “Yes!” “Oh, well that doesn’t exclude you from waiting in lines, it just gives you discounts,” I replied. Over and over though, she kept repeating that she was a VIP and deserved special treatment. I pulled up our VIP program and showed her, but she didn’t want to hear it. In her mind, she was more than a VIP customer, she thought she really was a VIP.
It reminded me of the seven sons of Sceva. They thought they were someone because they were sons of a Jewish High Priest. They went around casting out demons in people by saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches!” Well in Acts 19:15, a demon called them out on it. The evil spirit said to them, “I know Jesus, and I know about Paul; but you—who are you?” (GNT) These guys thought they were VIP’s in the spiritual realm, but the demons didn’t even know who they were.
Who are you? That question goes out to each of us today. Do we know who we are in Christ or are we trying to get by using the faith of our parents? Have you made the sacrifices in prayer, in the Word, and in living the Christian life so that you’re known in the spiritual realm? In God’s kingdom, being a VIP isn’t about looking and acting the part. If you want to be a who’s who in God’s kingdom, you’re going to have to be a living sacrifice that’s pleasing to God. He rewards humility over pride and suffering over pleasure.