Can I be intimate with God?
The answer is yes. After all, it is God who asks us to be intimate with him. Paul spoke of knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection, But how can we be intimate? It is more than reading the Bible and attending church. There is more to intimacy with God than this.
The church is the crux here. Many of the intimacy passages are referring to the Church. The Bride of Christ is the Church, and although we are part of that, we are not the Bride of Christ individually.
The setting is important. Imagine a married couple having a meal. There may be candles and low lighting, music on low and good food, but if there is no trust in the relationship the intimacy will not be there. The mood may enhance intimacy, but it does not create intimacy.
The church is like that, we can do things to create a mood such as a candlelit choral evensong or a modern praise service and expect intimacy with God to be there, but without trust, the intimacy will not be there. If the church does not trust God, or the individual does not trust, what can we expect?
A relationship with God is something that grows.
- All are equal
- Fighting in the Spirit.
We start our relationship when we give our lives to Christ.
We continue into fellowship walking with God and one another.
We become intimate with God.
I have included two further points because in the service last Sunday at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield the preacher challenged us to read through the letter to the Ephesians in one sitting. So I did. Sunday evening words from Ephesians were chanted in the dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale on TV. By selective quoting they somehow made a passage about people being equal because we are all in Christ and that we should voluntarily subject ourselves to each other into meaning that women are subject to men and should be forced into subjection. But that is a digression, I am really looking at the first three points in this blog.
Monday evening was the Life group, a small group meeting in the home of church members, and we considered the message to the Ephesians in Revelation chapter 2. Here was a church doing everything right. There is a long list of what they did right, to the casual viewer this was a good church, but Jesus said, “You have lost your first love.” Later that night, and again this Tuesday morning, I have been reading reviews of ‘Beard Theology,’ a book by The Church Mouse to be published in early August, of which the publicity blurb says: “Smart, funny and absolutely fascinating. Lurking behind all that facial hair is an unexpectedly profound exploration of the way beliefs turn to rules and change the way we look and act.”
Beliefs turn to rules. Relationships turn into formalism. The Ephesian Church were still doing what they used to do out of love for God, but now they do it because that is what they do. The 30 years (using the traditional dates of writing) or so between the writing of the letter to the Ephesians and the writing of Revelation the switch to rules had occurred.
This blog is about intimacy with God which of course includes our love of God and God’s love for us. Intimacy is something that grows, and a way it can grow is outlined in the first three chapters of Ephesians.
In the first chapter, it is stressed that we are in Christ. It is really hammered home, in Christ or in him is used seven times in the first fourteen verses. Then comes the first prayer:
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…
Ephesians 1:15-20 ESVUK
Ephesians, read as a whole shows all the tangents of a dictated account, but it also has an overall progressive theme running through it.
This prayer shows the start of a relationship. ‘That we may have knowledge of him,’ ‘That you may know what is the hope.’ We accept Jesus, we are given the Holy Spirit,’ and, taking into account what has been said about being in Christ, we are raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God by being in Christ.
But Paul does not end the letter there. Chapter 2 and most of Chapter 3 develop this: We walk in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers. We are all one, Gentiles as well as Jews. But I have fellowship with other Christians within my church and elsewhere and friends outside the church. None of these has the intimacy I have with my wife. Even when we are not interacting, I am watching TV and she is reading her Kindle, there is an intimacy of being in the same place. This sort of closeness comes in the second prayer in Ephesians:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14 – 20 ESVUK
Filled with all the fullness of God. Wow! That is worth repeating. Filled with all the fullness of God. This is something Paul finds so amazing that he breaks into a song of praise. This level of intimacy with God is one that naturally overflows into praise awe and wonder. Praise God for his unbelievable love for us. I chose a picture of praise because that is what intimacy with God produces (I also chose it because it is copyright free.)
In the same way that my intimacy with my wife has developed since we got married, we have to mature after becoming intimate with God. It is a step on the way, not the destination. We have the privilege of becoming warriors for God against evil. That may or may not be a future blog. It is a stage that I do not feel I have reached. But intimacy with God, to bask in the love and trust of God is a great thing. Please, if you have read this, take time to rest in God’s love.
Jesus loves and trusts us. Yes, he trusts us. Think about that.
Pray that your walk with God will develop in love and trust for Jesus who loves and trusts you.
Thanks to the members of my Life Group at Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, who without knowing it wrote much of this blog.
The subject of Intimacy with God has been on my mind for some time. It has been in my to-blog list since before Lent. Then we had a visiting preacher at church, a discussion in the Life Group on a subject we have been following for a few weeks and then the publicity on Twitter about the Beard Theology book. All this came together over two days, so I blogged this. It is also longer than usual, sorry about that.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.