ZR: Once we know Jesus, don’t we always know him? How would you explain the process of growing in our relationship with him?
MK: Yes and no. We know him from our limited ability to know him at any point in time. When we reflect on the Gospels, they often seem fresh and new—the Scriptures have not changed, but we have.
It’s also significant to note that very often we may know quite a bit about a person by hearsay, but when we meet and personally encounter that person we conclude, “He’s nothing like I thought he was like.”
When I come back from a trip, however long or short, I get the joy of rediscovering my wife and children. It ‘s a beautiful thing to rediscover people and places. In the same way, it is a joy to rediscover the true Jesus and his true message.
Sometimes we have distorted views of Jesus that need to be healed, and sometimes we need to confront distorted views of ourselves. One of the essential problems of Christianity at this moment in history is that most people, even non-Christians, think they’re pretty good Christians. But compared to what? We find comparisons to comfort ourselves. But when we measure our lives against the Gospel, we are challenged to change.
ZR: How can we know that we really know Jesus? Is there something we should be experiencing, or qualities we should possess, that would indicate that we truly knows Jesus Christ?
MK: It might be a little dangerous to go down that path, as it could create expectations that are unhealthy. To know him more each day through prayer and the Gospels is a great place to start. But I also believe that increasing knowledge of ourselves is essential.
As to whether or not other people really know Jesus, or what the indicators would be… wow, so difficult to say. And yet, you know it when you experience someone who has a real closeness to God.
There are two questions I think we should ask ourselves regularly, considering we are called to make God present in the world: 1) What is it like to be in God’s presence? and 2) What is it like to be in your own presence?
ZR: Early in the book you talk about the "Jesus question." What is that question and why is it important that each of us answers it honestly? Is this something we need to revisit throughout our lives?
MK: Toward the end of his public life, Jesus asks his disciples two questions: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” This second question I call the Jesus question. It is a deeply personal question that requires, and in fact demands, a deeply personal response. And yes, it’s a question that will re-emerge at various times in our lives as we grow spiritually.
It’s important that we answer it honestly because without honesty, we cannot get closer to God and grow spiritually. God loves honest prayers—they are human and beautiful. “God, I am too tired to pray tonight, I know I should have prayed earlier in the day but I was lazy.” “God, I am too angry to talk to you today, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” “God, I don’t know what to say to you today, I’m lost and confused and praying doesn’t seem to be helping.”
ZR: What role does the Holy Spirit play in helping us in all of this?
MK: The Holy Spirit guides and encourages us in our quest to have a unique encounter with Jesus. Allowing the Spirit to speak into our lives by pausing before we make decisions and asking for wisdom is one of the most practical ways that the Holy Spirit helps us live out the wisdom of Jesus’ teachings in our daily lives. But we also all need encouragement, and the Holy Spirit is the great encourager. The Spirit encourages us and yearns for us to encourage others.