A four-by-four post, actually.
Ouch. Misery loves company, so please join me. 🙂
I’ve been musing about intimacy with God this morning, how I used to believe that if I preached intimacy with God, if I got people vitally connected to Jesus, all the other important stuff would flow from that—a life of vision, embracing community, making an impact through the gospel.
I’ve been preaching and teaching intimacy with Jesus since I began my ministry in 1988, and the jury is now in: Whatever it was that I’ve been dispensing hasn’t translated into a fully orbed Christian life for my “disciples.”
The problem, it turns out, isn’t with the intimacy concept, or with the theory backing it up. If people get vitally connected to Jesus, all the good stuff does flow from that place of intimacy. The problem is that I haven’t understood intimacy well enough to teach people about it.
What I have understood, on a scratch-the-surface level, is that intimacy describes what we share. In this diagram, intimacy is depicted by the places where the circles overlap.
So am I intimate with God? Well, that depends. How much of my heart overlaps with his? What do I share in common with God? Many times, only this: A pre-occupation with me, Brad Huebert. Jesus loves me, this I know. It’s our strongest bond. And love me he does, so we have amazing common ground. But what do we share beyond my own interests, my dreams, my struggles, my prayers, my sins, my bills to pay, my family, my ministry? Far too often, not a blessed thing. Before you “tsk-tsk” me, my observation from more than twenty years in ministry is that I am not alone in this narcissistic concept of intimacy.
What is on God’s heart? What is he thinking about? Where do his passions lie? How about:
– A love for the world.
– A passion to seek and save that which is lost.
– A hatred for sin and evil.
– An ache for the hurting, oppressed, and broken.
– His glory.
– Transformation, growth, redemption, life.
– The church. His body, his bride.
I’m not saying I never think or care about these things, because I do. But neither can I say I’m passionate about them as a frothy overflow of my rich intimacy with Jesus. I can’t usually say I engage in these things because I care about what moves his heart, or because I love him too much to forget them. I’m interested in these things, many times, for my own sake, not for his.
Just being honest.
This is tough to swallow, but brings with it an exciting opportunity. If my relationship with God is mostly about me, then the most profound frontier for growth does not lie in giving more of myself to God, but in letting God give more of himself to me, in letting him capture my thoughts and passions with his own. To share in his love for the world, his passion to seek and save the lost, his hatred for sin, his ache for the hurting, oppressed, and broken, his glory, his transforming gospel mission, his bride.
Intimacy is mutual, or it isn’t intimacy. If all I share with God is the me factor, then I can’t expect the heavens to part as a result. But when Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” he wasn’t just talking about the Trinity. He meant, “Our circles overlap totally and perfectly.” Wow.
This shared passion will bring with it untold riches and joy, but also unfathomable pain and grief—just like I cause him. But I want it. Father, I’ve been so busy sharing myself with you that I’ve forgotten to let you share yourself with me. Change my heart, Lord Jesus.
What about your intimacy with Jesus? What do you and God share? Is it more about you, or him? Let’s talk about this.