There's a lot of talk about intimacy these days. It's almost a catch phrase in many circles and is thrown around a bit glibly in discussions. But as I look at what "christianity" is all about, it becomes very clear that intimacy is the central issue. Yes, the work of Jesus is central in terms of the mechanics and logistics, but in terms of its purpose, its about intimacy with God, what we were created for, no more and no less. He created us for relationship with him, that's our starting point, everything in our lives comes from that place.
But what does that look like, I mean, how do we "do" it? Ask 20 christians and you may get 20 different answers. Most of us equate intimacy with God with knowing him. That's sort of OK, but intimacy implies a lot more. I know a lot of people, I have many friends I know well - even "intimate" details of their lives. But its very few people who I have shared myself with down to the most private details, bonded with my heart, shared physically and emotionally all that we are together.
That level of intimacy requires commitment, vulnerability, trust, all that stuff... but there is one factor that enables all that - communication! We have to talk, look each other in the eyes, touch each other, listen and be listened to.
Most of us tend to think we will be intimate with God by endlessly reading the bible until it becomes part of us, because its The Word, the complete revelation of God. But of course, that's absurd. If there was a detailed book of my life (heaven forbid) that you could read, you would end up knowing a lot about me, but of course you wouldn't be intimate with me. How could you? You never met me, talked to me, spent time sharing our hearts.
So to have that level of intimacy with God, it requires the same thing. Now he's in us already, in fullness - we can't get any more of him, no bigger anointing, no greater outpouring, and although he sometimes reveals something of himself in huge "whacks" and revelations we still need to renew our minds to his presence and let him build the type of relationship he wants.
He starts by talking to us. Not through the scriptures (although he can reveal truths to us that way), and not through other people (see above). He TALKS to us, that still small voice. Now scripture says its still and small, but its a voice none the less, and Jesus said his sheep know his voice. If you are a sheep, then you can hear and know his voice. Its that simple. We don't have to fast and pray, spend hours studying scripture and endless "quiet times". We just have to shut up long enough and simply trust the small voice we hear in response to our own thoughts.
We know he loves us to bits and there is no condemnation in Christ, so if that small voice says you've been bad and God is angry, you know its not him. If he just says words of love and encouragement - that's him. If he gives ideas and suggestions about how to fix up the messes we make - that's him.
We trust that voice, Holy Spirit in us. We have "changed our minds" (metanoia) about who we are and who Jesus is, our old nature died with him, and we have a new spirit in us that's uniquely joined with the fullness of God in us. The only thing that gets in the way of hearing his voice clearly is our thought patterns - the old lies left behind that just need to be renewed. The enemy loves to tell us its a battle between the old and the new, but its really simple - really, really simple (remember, like little children). We ARE a new creation, free to run to our Dad, rest in his arms and talk with him.
He loves hearing our stories, our heart breaks, our victories, our shopping list, our funny jokes, our hopes and dreams. He loves having a glass of wine with us (or a beer), eating with us, shopping, driving, cleaning, mowing. And best of all, He chats to us all the time, so simple and natural, we miss it, looking for some powerful "holy" moment when we will have incredible revelations and fall on the floor in awe.
He talks with us, not at us. He listens, and loves. We find our security and identity and live loved, and that overflows into all around us.
I feel like I've only scratched the surface on how important this is!! I may continue on this subject...