Christian, You Are Fully Known And Fully Loved

There is perhaps nothing more desirable than to be fully known—completely seen and understood—and yet still loved. As Ed Welch put it, “To be truly known with nothing to hide … is life at its best.” 

Yet, while the prospect of being known brings excitement, it also instills fear. As Tim Keller put it, “To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.”

This paradox of emotions is what prompts us to be transparent up to a point but to stop short of full disclosure. We seek to share enough of ourselves to make us feel like we are loved and accepted for who we really are, but not enough to risk being rejected. Some walk this tight rope for decades. Yet, deep down, most of us sense that we were created for more.

To find clarity amid this paradox, we must understand where our desire comes from, where our fear comes from, and how the gospel speaks unrivaled hope into this clash of emotions.

Exploring Our Desire

While Scripture doesn’t tell us much about humanity before the fall, the Holy Spirit does give us two words to help us understand our sinless condition: naked and unashamed (Gen. 2:25). In other words, before sin, humans lived in the blissful freedom of being perfectly known and accepted by God and one another, without any fear or shame. Fully known, fully loved.

This glorious state is not only our origin; it’s also our destiny. One day we will know and be known fully, in a world of perfect love (John 17:3; 1 Cor. 13:12-13).

The first step in finding clarity amid our conflicting emotions is to recognize that our desire to be fully known is not sinful, but rather a healthy longing to relate to God and others in the way God intended. It is a God-given expression of our humanity.

Exploring Our Fear

After sin entered the world, our state of “naked and unashamed” was immediately replaced with a state of “hiding and afraid.” In the words of Adam, “I was afraid because I was naked. So, I hid” (Gen. 3:10). In the blink of an eye, the thought of being known morphed from a comfort to a threat. Tragically, this became the new normal.

At the heart of our fear of being known is a fear of rejection. And the most painful form of rejection is not being rejected for something we did, but for who we are. Notice that Adam does not say, “I was afraid because I ate the fruit.” He says, “I was afraid because I was naked.”

Adam’s sin plunged him into a deep sense of personal inadequacy and unworthiness. His sin created a separation between him and God and between him and Eve (Isaiah 59:2). He tried to repair this brokenness by covering up his shame, but it didn’t work. Even with his self-made covering, he still felt afraid (Gen. 3:8).

We’ve all felt this. Even in the moments that we think we’ve successfully hidden our flaws, we still don’t feel secure. In fact, hiding often amplifies our insecurity and anxiety (Proverbs 10:9). If hiding cannot give us the freedom we long for, what can?

The Gospel: “I know you and I still love you”

Perhaps there is no more comforting word in all of Scripture than the word “still” in Romans 5:6-8:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly … God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Notice the recipients of God’s love: weak, ungodly, sinners. Next, notice the timing of God’s love: God loves us while we are still weak, ungodly, sinners.

This passage corrects at least two common misconceptions about God’s love. First, it makes it clear that Christ’s death didn’t “persuade” the Father to love sinners. That is not the gospel. God does not love you because Jesus died for you; Jesus died for you because God loves you! Second, this passage reaffirms that God is not waiting until you “do better” to start loving you. His love doesn’t fluctuate with your always-changing performance. According to Romans 5:6-8, God loves you perfectly, even at your worst.

The beauty of the gospel is not that we are strong and sinless, but that God loves us and rescues us while we are still weak and sinful (which, in turn, motivates and empowers us to pursue new obedience). As A.W. Tozer put it:

Jesus Christ came not to condemn you but to save you—knowing your name, knowing all about you, knowing your weight right now, knowing your age, knowing what you do, knowing where you live, knowing what you ate for supper and what you will eat for breakfast, where you will sleep tonight, how much your clothing cost, who your parents were. He knows you individually as though there were not another person in the entire world. He died for you as certainly as if you had been the only lost one. He knows the worst about you and is the One who loves you the most.

God’s message for you is this: I know everything about you. I know you are weak. I know you are ungodly. I know you are sinful. But I still love you. No, not after you clean yourself up. Not after you are glorified. Now.

True freedom

True freedom comes not when we have successfully hidden; it comes when we realize that we have been found out, but are still accepted, through God’s gracious love and forgiveness. Through faith in Christ—and by living in continual, true repentance—despite our weaknesses and sins, we can once again enjoy the freedom of being fully known and fully loved.

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Blake Glosson is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary. He has been published by The Gospel Coalition and republished by Eternal Perspective Ministries (Randy Alcorn)Challies.com (Tim Challies)Moody Radio (Dawn and Steve Mornings), and numerous other sources. Previously, he served as the director of young adults at New Covenant Bible Church in St. Charles, Illinois.

Listen to “Fully Known, Fully Loved” here.

Read “Special Needs and the Goodness of Dependence” here.

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Overcoming Fear of the Future

Note: This article is also published on The Gospel Coalition.

“Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy … Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him!” (Psalm 64:1‭, ‬10)

Fear of the future—also known as anticipatory anxiety—is one of the most common struggles in the Western world, plaguing both young and old. This fear manifests itself in a variety of ways, including trouble focusing, racing thoughts, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

Perhaps you’re experiencing it now. You’re looking at your calendar and to-do lists for the next few months, feeling your stomach churn at the mountains ahead of you. Maybe you’re thinking about a relational conflict that will come to a head soon. Your heart rate rises as you consider the myriad of possible outcomes. Maybe it’s a big life change on the horizon—a move, a job change, a child going off to college—that’s keeping you up at night.

Beyond the physical symptoms, fear of the future wreaks havoc on our spiritual lives, filling our time with stagnant anxiety when it could be filled with spiritual vitality and growth. As Corrie ten Boom observes, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”

What can we do when we find ourselves paralyzed by anticipatory anxiety?

Battle of the Mind

Psalm 64:1 is a prayer we all desperately need to keep close—especially with a new year full of unknowns upon us: “O God. . . Preserve my life from dread of the enemy.” 

Most of our lives are spent not actually fighting our enemies, but only the dread of them. Often our deepest anxieties are not over something in the past—or even something in the present—but something in the future. The idea of what might happen. Something hypothetical in our mind. 

As Colin Smith remarks, “It is often the case that the fear of what lies ahead is actually worse than the reality itself.”

Yet we are called to take refuge in God not only when the future comes, but right now with our fears about the future (Ps. 64:10). As Paul writes to the Corinthians, we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

If we do not take our thoughts captive, they will take us captive. And that’s exactly what the enemy wants. He wants you to be ruled by your worry and taken captive by your fears. Satan wants to double-dip. He wants you to live in despair while you’re in trials and to live in dread while you’re not. As long as he can keep you in dread or despair, he can keep you from joy.

Fortunately, we have a defense for both kinds of attack. God’s refuge stretches beyond the battlefield and into the barracks, where the battle of the mind is often fought.

Taking Thoughts Captive

The primary way we take our thoughts captive is not by suppressing them or distracting them, but by informing them—especially with God’s promises.

There are many promises we can turn to in our worry, but one of the most important (and oft-repeated) ones is God’s promise of daily provisions (Ex. 16:4; Lam. 3:23; Mt. 6:11, 34, 2 Cor. 4:16, Heb. 3:13).

Be careful not to miss the timing contained in this promise. If you don’t feel the strength right now to handle what will happen tomorrow, do not be surprised! God has not given you today the strength you need for the rest of your life. He doesn’t promise that. 

God does promise to give you today the grace you need for today, and he promises to give you tomorrow the grace you need for tomorrow.

Our mission is clear: Live for God today, trust God for tomorrow. The only thing that is certain about tomorrow is that God will give you fresh mercy for it (Lam. 3:23).

Ultimate Hope

We can have hope not because we know the future, but because we know the character and promises of God.

As Laura Dingman quotes, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Our ultimate hope is not in our ability to figure out the future; our ultimate hope is in God, who holds the future in his sovereign and loving hands. God is for you (Rom. 8:31), he has good planned for you (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10), he will never leave you (Heb. 13:5), and he will stop at nothing to deliver you from your enemies (Rom. 8:32). Let’s commit to trusting him today!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the countless hours I have spent needlessly worrying about the future (Matt. 6:34). Help me to trust your wise rule and loving heart when fears about the future arise. Be an anchor for my soul when the waves of life threaten to upend me (Heb. 6:13). Thank you for your presence, your promises, and your salvation — let me rest in these today. In Christ’s name, amen.

Read “The Only Person Who Can Complete You” here.