I’m with some fellow graduate students who are seeking God for next steps. Out of all we have learned, God, how then should we live?
We crazy Christians have the audacity to think we can actually hear from God. And how easily I forget that this is an actual miracle: The God who breathed the world into existence, the God who knows every piece of who we are, also wants to be known and heard by us. What a gift. What a grace.
God brings to mind some Scripture—that triplicate question Jesus asked of Peter, “Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? . . . You do? Well then, feed my sheep.”
I hear God saying something similar now, “Aubrey, feed my sheep,” along with an additional phrase: “Don’t fill your stadium.”
Now, I’m not over here filling stadiums, not even close—most of us aren’t. We’re just trying to make ends meet, attempting to make sure our loved ones are safe, and hoping to make a little bit of meaning from our lives. And yet, we all feel at least some social pressure to make a name for ourselves, to hustle our way towards recognition and esteem.
What God is saying to me when he says, “Feed my sheep; don’t fill your stadium” is this: You don’t exist for your own glory or “fame.” You are here to serve and bow down to one name: the name of Jesus.
We live in a generation that wants to be known. Become an influencer, and you’ll have the potential for thousands to know your name. So we invest ourselves in a virtual world in the hopes that one day, we will finally be seen.
Still, why do so many of us feel completely unknown? In a time where we are more interconnected than ever, why are the rates of loneliness, depression, and anxiety at an all-time high?
Without a deeply rooted sense that we are fully accepted as we are, our society exchanges being known for being seen or recognized. But there’s a difference.
In Psalm 139:1 (NLT)— “Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me”—David describes being known by God as a completeness, where every part of who you are is exposed and loved.
The truth is, no amount of oversharing or followers or likes can make us fully known. Other people don’t have the capacity to see every crevice and cave that lurks in our souls beyond the surface of what we allow them to see. But God knows because he was there before we were formed. And that is the greatest gift: Being known by God is always greater than being recognized by people.
At the end of the day, any influence we have is not as important as the One we serve. Any successes—well, they are beautiful gifts from God, but they are secondary when compared to the joy of being known by God and making him known.
1. What does it mean to be known? How would you describe feeling completely known?
2. In what ways do you see our culture exchanging being seen for being known? Why is this dangerous? What are some of the potential effects that could have on human souls?
3. Read Psalm 139. Describe some of the ways David shows how well God knows him. Which of these do you need to remind yourself of? Which is most encouraging to you?
Aubrey Sampson serves on the teaching and preaching team at Renewal Church in West Chicago, which she co-planted with her husband, Kevin. Aubrey writes regularly for Christine Caine’s Propel Women and has contributed to Proverbs 31, Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience, Christianity Today, and more. She also speaks at churches and events around the country. Aubrey has her master’s degree in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton College and is the co-host of The Common Good daily talk show and the Nothing is Wasted podcast. Deeply passionate about helping hurting Christians find healing so that they can fully embrace their God-given identities and purposes, she has authored three books, Overcomer, The Louder Song, and her latest, Known.You can connect with Aubrey @aubsamp.