Do We Really Know Him?

Amber Ginter

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Oct 25, 2023
Do We Really Know Him?

We are known. We are His. We belong to our Creator. Why not thirst for the One who made us known in the first place?

It was cool outside for an autumn day. Leaves falling into piles were soon swept away by the elderly or crumpled by playing children. His presence almost faded into the background of grey skies and dull weather. But I saw him. His orange shirt peaking through the mounds of clothing he carried with him like baggage. Most of us know that feeling internally.

From the outside, I thought I knew him like every other passerby. His stature was the typical homeless man—shaggy beard and hollow eyes looking down. Shuffling from side to side to keep warm, his husky lay at his feet. The dog looked as if he'd been eating well. The man not so much.

It's hard to say if a person we know nothing about really needs our help or not. I asked my students this question and wasn't surprised by their range of responses:

"Homeless people don't really need help. They should help themselves."

"Homeless people aren't really homeless. They are stealing money and choosing to not work."

"It's hard to tell if homeless people are legitimately homeless. My parents always give a dollar or two because you never know."

"Is it our place to judge if they are or aren't?

Here's a shocking comparison. When sin entered the world, we were all homeless. God already intimately knew and created and called us, but we didn't know Him. And when He tried to introduce Himself to us, we denied and abandoned Him. Some of us even went so far as to call Him a liar and Satan himself. This is our human condition: sinners needing to be saved.

Do We Pray to Talk or Listen?

In John 5:31-47, John prepared the way for Jesus, but Jesus was always been greater than John. Despite clever claims and arguments, society couldn't come to an agreement. The people denied John and Jesus (vs.37), and ultimately, valued religion over the relationship (vs.39). This was because none of them really knew Jesus. Just like our perspective of a homeless man, we can't pretend to know Jesus if we never talk or listen to Him.

John 5:39-40
notes these words: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40, NIV).

We can't separate God's Word from a pure and honest relationship with Him. That includes hearing His voice, listening, and responding. A true friendship isn't a game of telephone where one person listens and the other speaks. Genuine relationships include listening and speaking. Hearing and responding. Reading God's Word and Praying. Seeking His counsel, but also wisdom and guidance from a multitude of counselors we trust (Proverbs 11:14).

God's Law and Word pointed to Jesus, but the Jews of His time were so stuck in their systems that Jesus was among them and they denied His very existence. 

Do We Know Jesus Outside of Our Control?

I think we get this way when we try to handicap and control God. When we think we know better than Him, or go our own way. This isn't godly. It may appear spiritual to "know" the Law. It's more godly to let it change your life. Live it out. Pursue it within your personal relationship with Jesus.

This is why Jesus says in verse 41 that He knows the heart of these people who know the Law but don't know Him: "I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts" (John 5:41, NIV). Isn't that crazy? Those who thought they knew Him most actually knew Him least.

The Jews and religious scholars refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah because it didn't intellectually make sense to them. It didn't match what they'd always known. But God isn't in a box confined to religion or laws. He isn't a puppet on a string controlled by human wisdom, insight, or understanding. If it were, He wouldn't be God.

Even the foolishness of Christ is greater than any wisdom of man. 1 Corinthians 1:25 notes, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" (NIV). What we think we know is superseded by His knowledge.

At the end of John 4, Jesus leaves us with a compelling statement: "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in His own name, you will accept Him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" (John 4:43-44, NIV).

God Desires You to Know Him

Friend, we must take steps today to know the Lord not only by His Word or religion but by our relationship with Him. Without a relationship, everything else fades away. This is why Jesus told Israel and Judah, His special and chosen people, that He desired their hearts, not sacrifices or burnt altars with incense.

“‘The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?’ says the Lord. ‘I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats’" (Isaiah 1:11, NIV).

Hosea matches this claim when he writes, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6, NIV).

God doesn't want you to work harder, offer more, or literally sacrifice things on an altar. He wants you to know Him. He wants you to give Him your heart. He wants you to prioritize and pursue your relationship with Him over the idols this world may taunt you with.

In return: He lavishes our relationship in love. He nourishes our souls. He calls us His.

Even when we abandon Him, He still chooses us. We are known. We are His. We belong to our Creator. Why not thirst for the One who made us known in the first place?

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:15, NIV).

Even if we struggle to know God and to prioritize our relationship over religion, rest in the peace that He knows us. He loves us. He chose us while we were still sinners. Nothing can ever change that fact. Nothing can stand against His love.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—when I awake, I am still with you" (Psalm 139:13-18, NIV).

Agape, Amber

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ChristianChan

amber ginter headshotAmber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at