If I were to ask you who knows you the best, do you have someone who comes to mind? Maybe it is your spouse or you parents, or your children. Maybe it is your siblings or your best friend. Who is it that knows you the best?
And building on that, does that person who knows you the best, know what you are like when you are happy or sad, do they know what you are like when you are angry or lonely or sick?
Does the person who knows you the best, know what you are like when you are at your worst?
When I meet with couples who are going to be married, I always ask them that question…has your soon to be spouse seen you when you are angry? When you are sad? When you are sick?
Often when we go out into the world, we put on a mask of sorts. We want to put our best face forward, so we do our best to be the happy, encouraging, always cheerful person we think the world wants to see, no matter what is going on in our lives.
But when we are home? Away from the outside world? Away from our bosses and co-workers and enemies and friends? When we are away from others? We probably have a part of us that comes out and acts differently. We are different people when we don’t need to worry about what others think, and can just be our true selves, no masks, no filters.
Who is it that knows you best? Why do they know you best? Do they know you best because they have known you the longest, like your parents? Do they know you best because of the amount of time you have spent together, like your spouse?
Who knows you best?
If you were to ask me, who knows me best, I would say that person is probably my best friend Melissa. She and I met as co-workers my second year of seminary, 16 years ago. At first we were just co-workers, and then acquaintances.
But as we experienced the many adventures of seminary and now ministry, we began to take down our walls and be more real with each other. The reason Melissa is the one who knows me best is that she lets me be real with her. She lets me be happy or mad or sad or tired. She doesn’t care whether my house is clean or if I am in my pajamas. She just wants to spend time with me, and she accepts me just as I am.
In our psalm for today, the writer of the Psalm talks about how deeply God knows him. He talks about God knowing all of his thoughts, and where he is at all times. He talks about God knowing what he is going to say before he says it, and how God knit him together in his mother’s womb.
Can you imagine someone knowing you that well? Not just guessing how you would act in a given situation, but truly knowing you? Can you imagine someone knowing how many days you were going to live, and knowing you so well that they knew you all the way down to every molecule that makes you who you are? It is, as the psalmist says, too wonderful for us to understand.
Can you imagine someone knowing you that well? And not only knowing you that well, but loving every molecule that is you? Loving the good parts of you and the challenging parts of you? Loving the strongest parts of you and the broken parts of you?
That is how God loves us. And most days we cannot even begin to grasp it. Most days we just sing Jesus Loves Me, and that is a nice warm and fuzzy feeling, and we go on with our day.
But think just for a minute about that person that you said knows you the best. And then realize that God knows you more. Think about the person that you love the most, and know that God loves you more.
God loves us not because we are perfect, or because we say or do all the right things. He loves us because he made us. He loves us because we are his. He loves us because he can see how wonderfully we were created, and just how amazing and how abundant our lives can be.
To be known is to be loved. It is all over our scriptures. In our gospel text for today, Nathanael comes to believe in Jesus because Jesus knows him. When Mary came to the tomb, it was when Jesus called her by name that she saw who he was. When the woman was at the well, she didn’t recognize who Jesus was until he told her that he knew her history and then she came to believe. It matters deeply to be known for who we truly are.
Do me a favor and look around for a minute. Not counting your family members who are here today, who is it at church who knows you best?
For some of you, you have sat side by side for years, and maybe you know each other really well. For others of you, maybe today is the first day you have walked in the door, and you look around and feel like you don’t know anyone. Do other people here know you? Do they know the true you? Or the you that wears masks and puts up walls to keep yourself safe? Do you know other people here? When you look around, have you taken the time to get to know people and hear how they really are on the good and the hard days?
You wouldn’t believe as pastor the number of times I talk to people who tell me they will come to church when they have things figured out. Or when life is less stressful, or when things are going better.
I think we should be able to come to church when we are stressed out and tired and broken. I think we should be able to be real with one another and come on hard days and good days and in between days.
When God calls us to come to church, it is to lift each other up. It is to worship side by side. It is to encourage one another and strengthen and support one another. When God calls us to be church, he calls us to love one another in spite of our faults and failures. When God calls us to be church it is to call us to see each other’s gifts and encourage each other to use them. It is to see when a church member is struggling and to find ways to help them grow and change. It is to see when a church member is rejoicing and to rejoice with them. It is see when a church member is grieving and to hold them as they cry.
Brothers and Sisters, our God knows you and loves you, more than you can possibly imagine. And he is calling you to know one another. To love one another. To be family to one another, to encourage one another. No masks, no walls, just love and support.
Let’s pray…God of grace, we thank you that you love us even though you know our broken places. We thank you that you challenge us to grow and change. Help us to be a church that loves one another and is real with one another. Help us to be a church that can reach out to the world with love and acceptance. Teach us how to love as you first loved us. In your heavenly name we pray, Amen.