"Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God..." (Gal 4:9)
So often Christians talk about knowing God and being in relationship with God. Knowing God is possible because he has revealed himself to us in creation, in Jesus and in scripture. Being in relationship happens because God has pursued and continues to pursue his people since creation. He pursues us in love. But what about being known by him?
I love this little mid-stream clarification, or correction Paul makes in Galatians. Yes, knowing God is essential and good, and a fundamental part of our relationship with him. But to be known by God is the thing that actually frees us from things and forces that enslave us in this world. Being known frees us from religiosity and opens us to faith. Being known creates the intimacy with God that we crave and that nourishes our faith. Faith works through love (Gal 5:6) to create fruits of the Spirit. In love we can live by the Spirit and be guided by the Spirit. (Gal 5:25).
Humans need to be known. We want to be known by God, and we want to be known by the people around us. When we are known by others it satisfies a deep need for intimacy and nourishes us in love. When we experience being known and loved, we then are able to know and love others.
Some of the spiritual practices most familiar to us are those that help us to know God. We read the Bible and Christian books, listen to teaching, participate in worship. On the flip side, I think we are typically less familiar with spiritual practices that allow us to experience being known. Prayer can sometimes be this place, but so often prayer turns into a list of requests rather than an expression of what is deep inside of us, let alone a conversation with God about those deeper places. Journaling can be a good way to explore what is inside of you, and to bring those things up to God, as long as we don't ignore or hide the bad parts or the things we think God might not want to hear. Another way of experiencing being known is through spiritual friendship or spiritual direction--having a relationship in which there is an intentional focus on spiritual things, and where you can share with another person your questions, fears, hopes, and feelings about your relationship with God, and get some feedback.
Do you experience yourself as being known by God? Does God hear you? Do you experience yourself as being known by others? Does someone really know you? Are you really heard by someone in your life?