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 it means to be loved by God.
“If you really knew me, you’d know_______________.”
I remember the first time my friend showed me a new reality show that aired briefly on MTV called If You Really Knew Me. The show runners had large groups of students all over the country fill in that blank. Their hope was to end bullying through understanding, thinking that if students knew one another’s struggles, they’d be more likely to express compassion rather than criticism to one another. The show would gather all the students in the school gym, and instructors would have them stand in a line along one wall. Then one of the instructors would read from a list of statements—things like, “If you really knew me, you’d know… ‘that I grew up in a broken home,’ or ‘that I’ve been a victim of some kind of abuse,’ or ‘that I sometimes feel lonely and scared, even among friends.’” For each statement that a student identified with, he or she would take a step forward, and eventually all the students would cross a line in the middle of the room.
Then the instructor would ask them to look around.
With tears in their eyes, they would see their peers—people whom they had perhaps overlooked or prejudged—only to realize that they were all stuck in similar struggles. Now, this all took place in a school, so it was no real surprise that most of the students (having no assumed relationship with Jesus) would have lives riddled with the unfortunate fractures of sin. But I’ll never forget the day my friend used this very approach in closing a message he was preaching to about one thousand students at a church youth conference. Surely, I thought, the result would be different in a room seemingly full of church kids; however, as he made penetrating statements like, “If you really knew me, you’d know I struggle with an addiction,” students stepped forward. “If you really knew me, you’d know I have been sexually abused.” Students stepped forward. “If you really knew me, you’d know I’ve contemplated suicide.” Students stepped forward. “If you really knew me, you’d know I’ve felt deep rejection.” Before long, over half of the seats were empty, and the altar was full. I think everyone could have stepped forward, but some remained seated, clinging to the false sense of comfort that superficiality can create.
The truth is we are all wrestling. We all walk with a limp. We are all trying to cope with the trauma that comes with existing in a fallen world, whether it’s having our hearts broken by people we trusted, having loved ones separated from us by death, having inclinations toward things that bring us shame, having a marred sense of value… You fill in the blank. I’ve come to the unfortunate realization that there is a version of Christianity that many of us have bought into that has trained us to be professional pretenders. This devotional is for people ready to shatter the veneer of polished Christianity and to step into the vulnerability the Gospel requires before the great work of grace can transpire in our lives. Perhaps if we were all honest about our issues, honesty wouldn’t feel so isolating. After all, Jesus didn’t die for the image we project. Jesus died for who we really are.
My desire is that one day we will all be willing to step over the line from hopelessness to hope, from hurt to healing, from struggle to surrender—that we will look around the room, beneath the cross, seeing each other and hearing Jesus finish that statement: “If you really knew me, you’d know that you are not alone.”
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