Charles Stanley wrote, “Our intimacy with God determines the impact of our lives.”
This coming Sunday, I am beginning a sermon series dealing with our intimacy with God, His intimacy with us, how important it is, and why intimacy makes the gospel totally opposite in character to religion.
The other thing that I will be addressing during this series is how many followers of Jesus do not, for a variety of reasons, such as upbringing or earlier teaching, really experience intimacy with God. The relationship they have can be described as how a father related to his children during the Victorian era – very stoic and cold relationally.
That was what the relationship between the nation of Israel and God in the Old Testament was like. Jesus, though, lived out a radically different relationship with God the Father. The way in which Jesus spoke of the Father, talked about His interaction with the Father, and lived out the intimate relationship He enjoyed with the Father so incensed the Jews that they sought all the more to kill Him.
Jesus spoke of the intense love that the Father had for each one of us. The words Jesus and the writers of the New Testament used speak to the intense emotional intimacy of the relationship between the Father and His adopted sons and daughters, those who have believed in Jesus and have been given the right to be called children of God.
Through the incarnation, Jesus brought the Father down to our level. That is why He told His disciples, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” That is what I call a relationship with intense and deep intimacy.
I don’t know; maybe why worship can oft seem so bland and devoid of demonstrated emotion of all types is because the level of true intimacy with the Father just isn’t all that deep or intense. I mean, the relationships we have with those closest to us can be very emotionally intense in a variety of ways, and it’s the emotional intensity which gives insight to the level of intimacy to be truly found in that relationship.
Relationships with a deep level of intimacy remove many inhibitions in how we respond to that person. Because of that intimacy, we couldn’t care less about what someone thinks about an action toward that person because of that intimacy.
But it is so often that adopted sons and daughters act, speak, and respond in the relationship with God that reveals that the relationship is modeled after that father to his children in the Victorian era.
But God wants so much more. He wants that intense intimacy that causes emotional responses, and causes us to not be able to care less about whether or not someone thinks our response is dignified because all that matters is that intimacy.