Should we really focus on experiencing more of God?
Let’s review what we learned in my last post.
– Intimacy describes what we share, so it’s always mutual.
– Because God has already taken the initiative to love us, our depth of intimacy with Him is limited by how much of ourselves we share with God.
– Intimacy only grows through interaction with God, as we learn to entrust ourselves more fully to Him.
– The more God has of me, the more I experience Him.
These are important truths to ponder, because our intimacy with God hinges on how we live them out.
The question is, how do we interact with God?
My wife, Shauna, and I are best friends. We go for walks, trips, and errand-runs together. We watch movies on the couch, eat meals together, and sleep in the same bed (unless I’m snoring too loudly, in which case Shauna bails and goes to sleep in another room). We truly enjoy each other’s company. But here’s the thing: Couples with lousy marriages do many of these same activities together without deepening their intimacy.
What’s the point? Well, daily devotions, church community, prayer, Bible study—all these are vitally-important activities for a believer in Jesus, but they aren’t intimacy in and of themselves. You can do all these things without growing intimacy with God. In fact, you could do all these things while drifting away from Him! To grow intimacy with God, we need to experience:
- His presence
- His voice
- His touch
… And he needs to experience our presence, voice, and touch in return. Sharing, remember? Intimacy.
The religious elite of Jesus’ day were experts in God’s precepts, but knew nothing of God’s presence. They knew their scriptures, without hearing God’s voice (John 5:37.38). They put their hands all over the Temple, their scripture-scrolls, and the people’s offerings, without being touched by God and touching Him in return, in contrast to Christ’s true disciples (I John 1:1). It’s a chilling warning we need to ponder seriously.
Okay, but should we really be focusing on God’s presence, voice, and touch?
I’d like to tackle a common objection some people have when we study God’s presence, voice, and touch: That we shouldn’t focus on our subjective experience of God, or we’ll be led astray. Maybe you feel this way. And while being led astray certainly is possible, an analogy may help you reconsider that position.
Imagine two married men. Both say they love their wives and are committed to them.
Husband #1 loves spending time with his wife. He can’t wait until each workday is done so we can rush home and revel in her beauty and hear the sweet sound of her voice. He enjoys both their light chatter and deep conversations. He loves to touch her tenderly, and hold her in his arms. When he’s with her, he feels like a million bucks.
Husband #2 spends his time after work in his study, re-reading the notes his wife gave him while they were dating. He thinks that spending time with his wife hearing her voice, enjoying her beauty, and engaging in personal conversation could damage their relationship by leading him to focus too much on his emotions and subjective experience. He insists the old letters are enough and gets defensive when you suggest that the point of those messages were to grow intimacy with her, not just occupy his thoughts with ideas about her.
Now, of course: The Bible is foundational and we need to study it intently and base our relationship with God on the truths we glean from it. But I think you get the idea. To grow intimacy with God, we need to interact with Him. We need to hear his voice, experience his presence, and discern His touch. We need to go beyond theology and head knowledge to true intimacy.
If my analogy doesn’t shift your perspective, maybe Jesus can. He Himself said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). The word know in this verse refers to knowledge gained through experience. It’s even used to describe sexual intimacy!
The bottom-line is this: If you’re shunning experiences with God’s presence, voice, and touch, you’ve already been deceived. And you’re certainly missing out on a massive part of what Jesus died a horrible death to give you. Wow.
In my next post, we’re going to explore interacting with God, starting with experiencing His presence. You’re not going to want to miss it! For now, I dare you to pray this prayer with me:
“Father, I don’t just want to know about you. I want to know you. I want to hear your voice, experience your presence, and feel your touch. I don’t want to be deceived by being misled, but I also don’t want to be deceived by missing out. I want that full eternal life centred on knowing you through experience that Jesus talked about. Come, Holy Spirit, and grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so I can know you better. Open my eyes to see You, open my ears to hear You, and open my heart to know You. I will settle for nothing less. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Here’s a quick video summary for you to enjoy. You can also share it with others: