There is a difference between knowing of someone and actually knowing them. Maybe you have a relative that your parents have often talked about. Through them you know about this relative but you don't actually know them. Then one day you get the opportunity to meet with them, talk with them, live with them for a bit. Now you know them.
Those of you from large churches may know of your pastor. You hear him preach, you read his books, you may even follow him on twitter, but you don't actually know him. You haven't visited his home or sat down to share in a meal. You don't know his personal struggles, victories, fears and hopes. You know of him but you don't know him.
For many people who attend our churches this describes their relationship with Jesus. They know of him but they have yet to meet him. For some, they are comfortable with that. They are content right where they are because it means the lack of relationship doesn't put too much demand on them. They aren't prepared for the commitment of "marriage", the sacrifices they have heard it will require. So they are content just to hear stories and worship from a distance. This is not the relationship Jesus is looking for.
Our relationship with Jesus is an "all or nothing". For those who try to approach him from a distance Jesus brings them face to face. There was a woman who wanted healing for her daughter and stood at a distance shouting. Jesus ignored her until she came and knelt at his feet. Even then he resisted saying he had only come for the children of Israel which provoked her to demonstrate her faith in Jesus. Then Jesus moved in her situation.
Consider Job. He had suffered much and his religious talk was tremendous. He was sticking with Yahweh no matter what, but Job worshiped a God he knew from a distance. As much as he did everything to honour Yahweh he did not know Yahweh. But after being chastised by him and after having lived through this experience, Job responded:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
Job was confronted by the holiness of Yahweh and his self-righteousness melted like wax before him. He realized his condition and his immediate reaction was repentance.
Those who stand at a distance do so because they do not want to be intimate with our God. But in order to love with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength we must draw close. Those at a distance say they are happy with themselves and they want to worship without changing. They want to hold on to their opinions and their actions. Those who come close are confronted by their own wretchedness in the light of Yahweh`s holiness. We fall to our face in repentance but through Jesus Christ he lifts us up as a changed person, a new creation.
We cannot stand at a distance and claim to have a relationship when we only have a "knowing". It is when we draw near to Jesus that he draws near to us and he knows us in the biblical sense of knowing. Jesus knows us but it is intimacy that he demands. It is the reason that he said there will be those who try to enter into his glory and he will turn them back saying, "I do not know you". It is the biblical sense of knowing, the intimacy as we draw close to him and he to us so that he lives in us and we in him. The Christian relationship with Jesus is not a religious methodology but an extremely intimate knowing of each other.
I can share a lot of scripture on this subject but I leave you with the holy words recorded by James, inspired by the Holy Spirit:
"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord. and he will lift you up." (James 4:8-10)
It is frightening to stand in the holiness of Yahweh and to have the ugliness of our heart revealed to us. There is lamentation, mourning and weeping that is provoked. But the greatest moment is when Jesus reaches down and lifts us up. There is no greater moment in all of eternity then to have all that ugliness washed away and stand before our Lord as a new creation, brought about because the Father willed it and Jesus did it.