12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am [already] fully known. –1 Corinthians 13:12
I filled out the 2020 Census today. You can complete it on-line. In less than 15 minutes I had accounted for the existence of myself and my family. We really are here! But render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, right? Reminds me of the classic Christmas Eve text from Luke 2:1, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” You can sense the authority and perhaps a somber note to the decree. Caesar said so and because he did, they did.
I am struck by how little this 2020 census asks of us. I say this having seen older censuses, especially the records of my dad’s family after bunches of them had immigrated from Italy and had taken root in a couple of the boroughs of New York City. The older censuses asked all sorts of questions, from a person’s occupation to education level to even their health. Interestingly enough, and I know this because I used to work at the National Archives and Records Administration, census takers often misspelled the names of “foreign” residents. I thought “Zucconi” was spelled only one way, but government records indicate that you can come up with all sorts of ways to spell it! My ancestors were known but not really known, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, today’s census has me asking, “What does it mean to be known?” To be recognized as more than a resident or a name on some government roll? If they don’t want to know anything more about me or my family, am I known? Or, better, what does it mean to be really known not only by those who love us, but also by Christ Himself? Consider this for yourself and those whom you love especially during this time of isolation and “social distancing.”
The irony is that the current pandemic is forcing “being known” among families and neighbors. I have never seen so many people outside walking (6ft apart!), riding bikes, and using ZOOM for a cocktail party. I also heard boardgame sales have skyrocketed. These are good things. One of the best memes on the internet is of an exhausted dog, splayed out on the ground, giving voice to his frustration of having gone on six walks already that day. He wants to know who this coronavirus person is!
Okay, back to Christ and being known. This is really what matters. What does the idea of being known mean to you? And when I say “known,” I mean more than just your name (spelled correctly) or where you live, but your anxieties and fears, your hopes and dreams, your joys and pains? That’s what we are after as the people of God—to remember and recall as much as necessary that we are known and even more so, to know that even in our imperfections and sinfulness, even in our successes and victories, we are anchored and secured in and by the power and love of Christ Jesus.
Scripture reminds us that nothing surpasses his power, his love, his plans and provisions for us. And that regardless of the circumstances, God uses all things for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8) Think about it this way: we already know some of the initial good springing from the world-wide lockdown. It’s being known, or getting to know one another again in new ways. Other things are happening too, with Christians serving others and finding ways to stay connected with one another and their neighbors, even at a distance. Our human freedom of movement may be restricted, but the freedom of the Spirit is alive and well. That’s good to know!
We know that our current circumstances will pass, the government’s restrictions will ease and we will get on with living—hopefully with a less isolated and fractious atmosphere than we had before all this started. The census will continue to collect information and you’ll have gotten to know better those around you. But most of all, what has not changed and will never change, is that you are fully known by Jesus, and in that fullness, loved by Him like no one else can.
Fully known in Christ with you,