Sunday, February 8, 2009

Being known by him

Bob Sorge, in his life-changing book, Secrets of the Secret Place, arrested my attention with these words:

Someone once asked, “Do you know God?” But there’s a question that is far more important: Does God know you? The issue on the great day of judgment will not be whether you know God but whether God knows you.1

This is the issue in the last three verses of the parable of the ten virgins. Two blogs ago, I investigated this parable in an effort to discover the secret of “THOSE WHO STAY FILLED.” I concluded that their secret is avoiding “second-hand religion” but instead drawing near to God and living by his Word—for themselves. In the next blog, I explored what it means to truly know God and stay alive in him, the way the five wise virgins were able to do. Now we come to the last three verses of the parable, which expose the critical matter of being known by God.

"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour . . .” (Matt. 25:11-13).

These three verses are puzzling to most of us, I venture to say. A great deal of light is shed on them by Bob Sorge’s continued discussion of it:

“But,” someone might counter, “I thought God knows everything about us anyways!”

True, He does. But just because He sees certain dark rooms in our heart doesn’t mean we’ve invited His light into those dark rooms.2

Have we failed to talk to God about our dreams, because we’re afraid he might not agree and might try to talk us out of them? Do we avoid discussing our attitudes with him, because we don’t want to change them—we feel so strongly that “this is part of who I am”? Do we “keep from him” our secret sins or sinful thoughts, because of the shame and condemnation we expect to feel in his presence?

If so, we have completely misunderstood the type of relationship God invites us to. We are operating out of how we have learned to behave in human society. We have learned to reveal only a little about ourselves to other people. And there’s wisdom in that. Who knows what certain people will do with intimate knowledge about us? Who knows whether they will reject us, if they know our weaknesses and our past deeds? Who knows whether they really even want to hear about our dreams and our struggles? But God is different. His love is unconditional. His understanding is complete. Our secrets are safer with him than they are with us. We don’t know what to do with them. He does.

Still, many of us might feel that mentioning ugly things about ourselves to God is as unseemly as wearing stained clothing in public. We may feel that it would be disrespectful to God to “wear our dirty laundry” before his eyes. But the Bible clearly states

He who conceals his sins does not prosper. . . (Prov. 28:13).

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault . . . (James 1:5)

God is not surprised, shocked, or turned off by our sins and our shortcomings. He is frustrated by our unwillingness to admit the obvious and let him change us by his love and his grace. Being open with God about our sins and our lacks is the way to grow and prosper in our relationship with him. Peter is an example of an honest, transparent follower of Jesus. He blurted out what he was thinking countless times. He undoubtedly was expressing what the rest of the disciples were thinking—but they were too proud and too afraid of Jesus’ rejection to say so. And who prospered the most? Who grew by leaps and bounds in love for Jesus? Who dared to believe that he could do what Jesus did (like walking on water)? Who was admitted into Jesus’ closest circle of disciples? It wasn’t the careful, fearful ones who kept their thoughts to themselves. It was Peter, whose heart was an open book to the Lord.

Consider, for example, an incident after Jesus’ resurrection, when the disciples were at loose ends, wondering what they were to do next. Peter didn’t hang around, trying to figure out the pious response to the situation. He said, “I’m going fishing!” This candor did not put a rift between him and the Lord. It actually set the stage for the Lord to meet him with the miracle of a super-abundant catch—and to commission him to “feed my sheep.”3 The Lord wants to meet us where we are. He can’t meet us when we’re pretending to be somewhere else.

Bob Sorge, in speaking of Zecharias’ vision of the lampstand and the two olive trees,4 says this:

What we really want is wider pipes. The pipes that carry the oil from the bowl to the seven lamps are critical to the degree of light emitted by the lampstand. If the pipes are open and unclogged, oil will flow freely to the flames of our hearts. When this admixture of oil (the word and the Spirit) flows into our hearts and sets us ablaze for Him, the kingdom will advance in and through our lives in staggering proportions. The issue is not, “Work harder!” The issue is, “Get oil!” The secret is: Apply yourself to enlarging your connection to the source of divine oil.5

Opening our innermost beings to the Lord greatly widens our pipes and enlarges our connection to the source of divine oil.

How about it? Will we entrust ourselves to his love and let him know us? Much rides on our decision.
1Bob Sorge, Secrets of the Secret Place (Lee’s Summit, MO: Oasis House, 2001), p. 175.
2Bob Sorge, Secrets, p. 176.
3John 20
4Zech. 4:1-9
5Bob Sorge, Secrets, p. 207.

No comments: