Known. Loved. Empowered.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved… is what we need more than anything.” 
–Timothy Keller

Whether we are loved because we are pretending to be someone who we are not, or we are unloved for living out who God has created us to be, we all have experienced being unknown or unloved. We cannot be deeply loved without being known. We cannot be deeply known without the possibility of being hurt or unloved by others. Only in God, through Jesus’ death on the cross, are we both completely known and completely loved.

Known at our worst

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2)

God is the only one who knows what our worst really is. When he masterfully designed and crafted a perfect, beautiful world it was our wrongdoing that brought death and destruction into it. When God loved the world enough to send his Son Jesus. He was pierced, crushed, and killed because of our wrongdoing (Isaiah 53:4-6). When our actions caused the work of God’s hand to be filled with disease and death and his own Son was wrongfully killed, he chose to love us. God knows us at our worst and still pursues us and loves us.

At our worst God takes the initiative to reach out to us. (Romans 5:8) It was God who called out in the garden when Adam and Eve sinned, and it was God who made clothing to cover their shame (Genesis 3). When Israel sinned over and over again God sent prophet after prophet that they might turn from their sins. When Jesus knew he was about to be killed by those in Jerusalem who had also killed the other prophets before him, instead of judgement he says “how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Luke 13:34). Nothing we have done can separate us from his love. Even at our worst God knows who we are and loves us.

Loved with his best

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4–5)

Even at our worst, God loves us with his best. Sometimes I think about what it would have been like watching God create the world. He created the light and darkness and designed how the earth would orbit the sun and spin in just the right way to create day and night. He created water using hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which by themselves are gas, but he enjoyed designing the laws that cause them to bond in such a way so that they would be a liquid. Maybe he even thought about how the people he would create would also eventually discover this and how some would marvel at it. He created vegetation with many different shades of green and many different leaf shapes and flowers with so many different colors and shapes. He decided that it wasn’t enough to have just a few types of animals so he created thousands of different kinds of animals. Some would live in water some on land. Some would fly, others walk, others waddle, others swim. The sloths would be very slow, the flamingos very pink, the ants very strong.

I wonder when he was about to create man and woman if his demeanor changed for a minute. I wonder if he stopped to think about this next creation of man and women, who he would create in his own imagine. Not only would they reflect characteristics of God like the rest of his creation, but they would also be able to have a relationship with him—to know him and love him. Maybe God thought about how humankind would also be his creation that would bring him the most joy and the most suffering. He knew that they would bring death and destruction into the perfect world he had just created. He knew that his perfect Son would have to suffer and die for their wrongdoing, yet he still chose to create humankind and endure the joy and suffering they would bring. God knew when he crafted each one of us what our worst would be. But he still chose to create us and love us.

Empowered for good works

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Through Christ we are known at our worst, loved with his best, and empowered for good works. Often we see and hear the opposite. That we must first do good works and act a certain way before we are worth being known and loved by God or others. Ephesians 2 shows that God loved us before we did anything to earn his love. We are saved only because of his grace. And because of his grace and love he has prepared good works for each of us to do. (Ephesians 2:8–10) We must be rooted in his love for us first so that we can trust him to empower us and prepare us for the good works he has for us to do.

This is my prayer for all of you from Ephesians 3:17-21.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

About the author

I am a natural deep thinker, which means I love reading books, getting away from things to process the week, and when all the little details line up. I also love, running, volleyball, and almost any form of competition, especially if I have a good shot at winning.

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