To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
As usual, Lewis is poetically describing a reality we all know: It is dangerous to have friends. It can be scary to be known. When we are known, we give up some control. We give people access to our hopes, dreams, plans, and ideas. If we have friends, those friends get to have opinions about the choices we make. If we live life alongside other people, those people affect how we experience… life.
Sometimes the scariness of being known drives us to an opposite pendulum swing. As Lewis describes, we lock up our heart. We put a strong, impenetrable gate that restricts access so that we can’t be known. But the result of that choice is not more control, it is a complete loss of our self.
Being known is inherently risky. But being unknown always ends in devastation.
How do we take the risk? Who do we trust?
On the night before Jesus died, he was having dinner with his friends. He talked about being betrayed and he talked about going away. Jesus reminded them that He was making a way for them to be with Him forever.
At one point, Jesus’ friend, Philip becomes exasperated and says,
Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.
John 14: 8
Jesus replies (with some exasperation as well…)
Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?
Why is Philip so resistant to knowing Jesus?
When we get to know someone, we begin with information exchange– how you spend your time, who you spend your time with. But the movement from knowing about someone to knowing someone is the shift from information to motivation. Why did you move here? Why do you do this work? Why is that person important to you?
Jesus says to Philip— you have so much information about me. You have watched me work. You know a lot about me.
You have even heard me talk personally about why I do these works and what they say about my relationship to the Father. You know me. Do you trust me?
Philip is right on that edge of moving from knowing about someone to knowing someone. And we know that when we know someone, when the relationship becomes personal, we are taking a risk to let that person influence and shape our life. As soon as we get in to a personal friendship, we lose control.
For lots of people they resist making the shift from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus because they know it will make them vulnerable to His influence and leadership in their life. They would prefer to keep their heart safe.
I even feel this as new people continue to come to Restoration. It is vulnerable to come in to a new place and to open your life to new people. But the alternative is devastating.
So I am praying regularly for us– that we would have the courage to pivot from knowing about someone to knowing someone and all the consequences that has for life lived together. May you find that knowing Jesus is a profoundly safe thing in the midst of great vulnerability. And may we all have rich friendships that change and transform us for the good.