We talk quite a bit about knowing God, and we should. We want to help our kids come to know who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us by providing Jesus Christ. But knowing God is only half of the relationship; we are also known by God. And in many ways, that is even more amazing.
In his book Known by God, Brian Rosner wants us to drink in this deep, beautiful truth: in Christ, we are known by God. “According to the Bible,” he writes, “in order to know who you are, you have to know whose you are. We are defined by our relationships, by who we know, and who knows us. And when it comes to personal identity, both the Old and New Testaments agree that being known by God is of critical importance.”(1)
Rosner points to three aspects of the believer being known by God that are helpful for us to keep in mind as we disciple kids.
- We belong to God.
To say that God knows us doesn’t mean that He is merely aware of our existence. God doesn’t know of us like we know of a famous athlete or actor, or person from history. God knows us on a personal level. And even more than that, to say that God knows us is to say that we belong to Him. We are His people.
When a kid trusts in Christ, this is true of him or her in full. We want to help our kids understand this amazing truth. In Christ, they belong to God and that is a glorious truth. We are all part of His people, the church, a people special to Him, loved by Him, and given a mission to make much of Him every day.
- We have been chosen by God.
There is quite a bit of debate about what it means to be chosen by God and how that works. It’s an important discussion, but we cannot miss the proverbial forest for the trees. In some way, somehow, God chooses us. And even if we might not understand or agree about God’s choosing in relation to salvation, we should all be able to agree that if nothing else, God chooses us to serve Him in unique ways. While we all have the shared mission of making disciple-making disciples, how exactly we do that differs greatly.
We want to help our kids who have trusted in Christ understand that God has chosen them. He wants to use them in special ways and He has equipped them and will empower them to do whatever those are. And this isn’t something way down the line when they become adults, or even teenagers. God has chosen them for a mission right now. Their lives have meaning and purpose beyond their wildest dreams.
- We are children of God.
It has often been said that everyone is a child of God, but that’s not correct. While God acts fatherly toward all humanity, He is only Father of those who have trusted in Christ—those whom He has adopted as His children. To say that we are known by God is to say that we are His children.
Some of our kids might come from great homes with loving, yet imperfect families. But some of our kids come from homes that would make us weep if we knew what they experienced. Sin is ugly and the home is often hardest hit with its venom. Our kids need to know, however, that in Christ they have a perfect Father. A loving Father. A gracious and generous Father. A Father who will never fail them. Never leave them. Never abuse them. Never neglect them. And not only that, they have brothers and sisters in Christ to walk with them through anything they might face in life. To be known by God is to be part of His family forevermore.
Brian S. Rosner, Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Identity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017), 137. Kindle edition.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to Lifeway. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.