Summary: Knowing God means that we love the brothers and build them in the Faith.

“Concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.” [1]

“I’m as good a Christian as you are!” You may have heard this protest voiced at sometime in the past. Perhaps you even flung this very argument against someone at some point in your past, possibly before you became a follower of the Risen Christ. However, if you’ve been a follower of the Master more than a few weeks, it is almost a certainty that you have heard this protest vigorously voiced by some aggrieved soul who had taken offence at something you may have said or at some action you may have taken.

The offending action that elicited the strong response may have been as innocuous as declining an invitation to share in a salacious exchange of opinion, and the individual was offended at what they saw as your reluctance to tacitly approve of their character. In the final analysis, all such angry accusations thrown at the follower of the Saviour arises from what the angered party deems as a personal slight. Their character was exposed through their action or through their words, and your refusal to affirm them in the display of dissipation leaves them enraged, stung because they are seen for what they actually are.

Your offence could have been as simple as refusing to receive gossip concerning a fellow saint, and the aggrieved person charged you with acting as though you were somehow superior to them. Perhaps you were unwilling to participate in some lascivious activity, or you refused to laugh at some ribald humour the offended party thought needed sharing. Consequently, the individual was miffed because you didn’t share in their foul-mouthed or off-colour humour. Or perhaps you politely declined an invitation to join in one of the common orgies of excess that characterises modern life, and the individual who was angered took exception to your refusal to join in their revelry. Or, more disturbing still, the presumed slight could be as innocent as a polite dissent from some novel doctrinal position espoused by a fellow believer in the Christ.

Regardless of what the precipitating situation may have been, your refusal to participate in a dive into moral dissipation or doctrinal deviation resulted in an angry outburst as the antagonist expressed outrage, castigating you for thinking that you were better than they were! You didn’t need to say you were better than them; in fact, you likely didn’t even intimate such a thing. They felt the sting of rejection of what they knew was morally corrupt or doctrinally suspect and they were angry.

The appropriate rejoinder to such a scenario is an acknowledgement that the aggrieved soul perhaps is a better person than you are! We Christians know that we are sinners, though we know we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in the Son of God. It is even possible that the aggrieved party is more religious than you are. However, what is often overlooked is the fact that religious exercise, pious activities are not in view when we speak of our relationship with the Living God. We either have a relationship with God, or we don’t—there is no partial relationship. We who are redeemed know that God is at work in our lives transforming us into the image of His Beloved Son. Either we are known by God, or we are not.

I recall an incident which occurred after I had recommended that a couple seek professional counselling for tensions that were creating incredible stress on their marriage. The couple did attend several sessions with a licensed counsellor, and appeared to be resolving some of the tensions between them. After a few weeks of counselling, the counsellor suggested that the couple should invite me to attend a session with the couple. He determined that it was time for pastoral input into the problems he had uncovered in the relationship. Of course, I was happy to assist in whatever way he thought would benefit the couple.

I did travel to a distant town to meet with the couple and the counsellor one evening. We opened the evening with prayer, and that was the high point of the session. The husband objected to my presence, though he had agreed with the therapist to request my presence before I was ever invited to provide input into the counselling. When asked why he objected, the man responded, “Because I know more about the Bible than him!”

The counsellor was nonplussed. “You mean, you know more than your pastor? Though you haven’t studied as he has nor do you have the experience he has gained through his years of ministry, you know more than he does?”

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