Midweek Fellowship – August 17, 2016
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
In John 17:3, what is knowing God equated to? “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” How do we know someone? Is there a difference between knowing someone, knowing about someone, and knowing of someone? We cannot base our knowledge of someone on what we hear and read about someone.
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They gave different answers. If we base our knowledge of Jesus on those answers, then, we will be confused for some said, “He is Elijah or John the Baptist; that He was a demon, a drunkard; a glutton and a pretender.” Some said that He was a good man or a prophet.
How do you know someone? What will you base it on? Over thirty years now, we still are in a quandary of who Marcos is. Is your answer based on who talks about him? Is your answer based on whether he has helped a person or whether the persons talking became victims of or were affected by his style of management as a President?
What is the best way of knowing someone? It is spending quality time with them. I know of somebody who was a suitor of somebody I know. The man would visit the woman, but the man just sat in the woman’s house and did not say anything. They spent time together, but not communicating or interacting. Here, there is a big difference between quiet time and quality time.
Many times, in our family, we plan our time together. Sometimes, I get affected by small things that affect my mood. My wife would say, “Chill, this is a time for building up relationships within the family. Put off later whatever upsets you. For now, we are supposed to accomplish quality time.”
In dating, one very good way of knowing somebody is eating with them. There is a very big difference between the words dine and chow down. There is a big difference between breaking bread, sharing a meal, or scoffing down, that is, eating voraciously. When a man goes on a date, what he would want is to bring the woman not to fast food chain but to a quiet place with a nice ambiance and dine. They don’t consume food; they dine together. A dinner date is not a twenty-minute fast food eating session.
It is a tradition to have a full-course meal and it is something that you spend time doing, at least spending five hours on it. This is done with people you are close with, with somebody you know, not a stranger. You commune with somebody in such a setting. This activity establishes relationships; it brings people closer to each other; it strengthens bonds. Someone said that such activity is a movement in progression towards something higher in the order of intimacy. The food, the environment, the trimmings, the embellishments, and the ornaments are means to an end. The purpose is to build relationships and move in that progression toward intimacy.
An author boldly said, “God created the world because He had to have a venue for building His relationship with man.” What He thought of was the real purpose – not the trimmings or the ornamentation. The world was created and everything in it to enhance, to be a conducive venue for this relationship that God wants to build between Him and man. It is supposed to be interactive; two-way; a mutual giving of self to the other. It is an impartation of edification.
It was said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.” Relationship will be at its best where there is a “reckless abandon.” A person would be very vulnerable, recklessly vulnerable to another person to a point of being betrayed and being hurt, and it doesn’t matter as long as he gives of one hundred percent of himself, with nothing withheld even when risks are thrown in. This is how relationships work best.
There is a big difference between love-making and copulation. A married man and woman are supposed to make love not mate or sleep together. They are supposed to be building a relationship using a certain gift that God has given to them. The work “to know” came from the root of what a husband and wife do in their bedroom. In Genesis, “And Adam knew his wife.” This means that they made love and slept together. The same root word, “to know” is also used towards our relationship with God.
In Ephesians 5, we are supposed to be the bride and Jesus is supposed to be the groom. One day, we will participate in this great wedding feast, and it will be the highest point of our relationship with God, our reconciliation to God through Him. If our attention is on the means, if our intention is to satisfy ourselves, then, the closeness is not established because we are distracted.
Understand which is the means and which is the purpose in order to know better how we grow in the knowledge of God. When our attention is on the means, there will be the emptiness; there will be the loneliness and the exercise will be futile. We would be in the company of someone, and yet we would feel lonely. This is the saddest thing that can happen to anyone. We have friends, but we feel lonely. We are in a group, but we feel alone. On the other hand, if we are giving, which is our primary purpose or intention, we build up each other and inevitably, we build ourselves up, too. The biblical principle is: he who loses his life finds it; he who withholds all the more loses it.
The movie “Jerry Maguire” is all about a sports agent named Jerry and his client, an athlete, whose relationship went through ups and downs. They became very close and their relationship went beyond professional. One night defined the career of this athlete. He was injured during the game, but their team won. They celebrated and he was the man of the hour. When he came out for the press conference, he ignored all the reporters and he looked for his agent. There was this touching scene called “The Hug.” Standing nearby was another agent and his football client. The latter asked his agent, “How come we don’t have that kind of relationship?” It takes time to establish something a relationship. We don’t force it; we have to spend time to have one.
I know of somebody who asked his father on a no work day. They were in the living room and the TV was on and the father was watching. The son said, “Can’t we spend time together?” The father was irritated and he turned off the TV and said, “What do you want to talk about?” They did not go farther than that. They did not move in progression towards something higher in the order of intimacy. Intimacy and relationship is not forced, but it is something that we work on as it involved communing with each other, fellowshipping; and it includes fighting, arguing, disagreeing, forgiving, accepting, and misunderstandings. We work on intimacy and this is how you build it up and this is how you know someone.
In Revelations 3:20, Jesus speaks, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” The wrong interpretation of this is when it is used for evangelism. Jesus was talking to His people, the Church in this context, saying, “I want you to know Me more. I want to come in and dine with you.” “I do not want to go to McDonalds with you, but to have a full course with you. I want to sit with you for at least three hours and build our relationship. Would you, once in a while, turn off your phone and listen to Me for a while? I want to tell you something about Myself.”
Jesus wants to reconcile us to Himself and to God, to reconcile us to our original fellowship back at the Garden of Eden. In John 4, the Samaritan woman was at the well and Jesus asked for water. She went to her neighbors in the village and told them about Jesus and how she found Him. They heard her, but the villagers asked Jesus to stay with them, and He did stay for two days. After two days of fellowshipping with Him, they knew Him and they told the woman, “Now, we know for ourselves what you are talking about. It is good to hear about Him, but we know Him more now because we spent time with Him. We sat down at His feet and we heard directly from Him.”
This produces a deeper closeness between us and God if we do this. Who is God? How do we know Him? I can tell you that God is invisible. No one has seen God, but Jesus became incarnate, became visible, became possible to be handled, to be held, to be experienced, to be tasted and to be seen. Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead of who God is in bodily form. We can know the Father through Jesus who is like us.
Acts 17:26 says that God made man to seek Him. God put an empty space in man that only He could fill so that man would seek Him. St. Paul said that God is not far from us. The unknown God that we seek can be known now through Christ because He is the fullness of the Godhead in the flesh. Such that, He was able to say to Philip in John14, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus had a relationship with the Father and He and the Father are one. Who the Father is, is seen in Jesus.
The first step to intimacy is spending quality time with the Father through the Son. I would want us to re-establish a set apart time for communion with God. We have to spend time for this. Those who would want to lose weight or to stay in shape have to spend time in order to accomplish this. There is no magic pill for this and we should not be fooled that there is this pill that would make us fit, slim, and lose weight. We have to work on it; we have to spend time to do it and to accomplish it.
Similarly, this is how we build our relationship with God. Spend time with Him – not fastfood time, but quality time. Share a meal with Him. Participate in the activities He wants us to participate in. Participate in the activities with our brothers together knowing Him, spending time, and growing in the knowledge of Him because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.