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Posts Tagged ‘intimacy’

Art by Daniel Gerhartz

Art by Daniel Gerhartz

Intimacy is a charged word. Just having it as the title of this blog will get me hundreds of spam comments and false hits. It has been usurped by the sex trade. And yet, it’s the essence of a true relationship, an authentic kinship, a life-changing connection. The Voice translation says it best:

But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him . . . [I John 2:5]

Now let me add my own tweaks to this verse: But IF I respond to and obey His word [the Christ], then God’s love has truly taken root and filled me. This is how I know I am in an intimate relationship with God.

Intimacy implies detailed knowledge of one another. It’s a given that the Spirit (living within me) has detailed knowledge of me. In fact, I’m pretty sure Spirit Christ knows me better than I know myself. But is it reciprocal? Do I know God? Of course not. I can only know what I am open to know. I can only know what is revealed through God’s actions and the Christ who walked the Earth to show us what God looks like in the flesh.

Here is God: follow me. That was Jesus’s message from the beginning, to each disciple: follow. Live the paradox. Love your enemies, go the second mile, love others as you love yourself, be devoted to God. Enter intimacy.

I am not a good friend. Not really.

I protect my heart from most people. Trust is slow. Betrayal feared.

But love requires an open heart, as does intimacy. One cannot come without the other and vice versa. Otherwise, they are both conditional.

My unconscious messages: I will love you if you don’t hurt me. I will expose my true self to you if you prove you are trustworthy. I would rather you not know me.

To have intimacy with God, I must practice with Human, for that is all we really have to work with. Except for pets. They’re easy. They already have the unconditional love part down pat. I am grateful for those small learnings over the years, at the least.

Come Lord Jesus. Teach this girl again. Open my heart. Give me courage to believe that my open heart will be protected in the shadow of your wings.

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Somehow I have had it my mind that God interrupted Noah while he was about his daily business and said, “I’ve got a job for you, go build an ark.” But now, I am caught up in this idea of people “walking with God” and what that means. I have assumed this walking with God business was a metaphor for closeness. Is that the only choice?

Genesis 9b; 13-14a
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. . . So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark. . . “

The only reason I’m playing around with this idea is that pre-flood, life was different. All the patriarchs were still around, their generations overlapping by hundreds of years. Even Adam was around for at least half of this time. The Garden experience was still part of their vernacular. And one of the most memorable things was Adam, Eve, and later, Enoch (my interpretation), walking with God in the Garden.

And here’s another one, Noah, specifically noted as walking with God.

In an article by Bob Sorge in Christianity Today, he writes, “God created man for the enjoyment of a walking relationship that involved companionship, dialogue, intimacy, joint decision-making, mutual delight, and shared dominion.”

I think that’s true, but I think we will never have the same opportunities as Human had before the flood. Despite being cast out of the Garden, God allowed for intimate relationships with others. God seems to always leave a loophole for Human, that’s how much God wants to ultimately preserve Human.

But it is a narrow way (Matthew 7:13). It is narrow because intimacy itself requires it. Even today, we cannot be intimate with everyone. Most people can only manage a few close friends, a few friends we trust totally, a few friends in whom we have invested our time, energy and even money. And sometimes, if we are lucky, we are married to one of these friends as well.

Noah built the ark because he was familiar with the God who told him to do it. He was not merely being “obedient,” they had probably talked about it already. Maybe there was an Abrahamic negotiation even (Genesis 18:16-33). We’ll never know.

All this makes more sense to me, that God doesn’t drop down edicts or demands or mandates on an unsuspecting follower. These requests come out of relationship, out of familiarity, and trust.

I remember, as a young Christian, I was so afraid that God would “call” me to some egregiously difficult post like the bush of Africa or the ice floes of Siberia or the rice paddies of China. But now I see, these directives come from internal agreement and possibly even a nurtured longing.

Come, Jesus says, walk with me.

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It’s not the perfection but the imperfections of our lives that make place for the Word, the divine message, the working out of becoming more like Christ. When I try to act like Christ on my own, I crowd out the essence of my formation and transformation within.

I John 1:10
If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Our new church is starting a series of services that are being coined “Deeper.” I like this characterization of the process of becoming, of making place, of re-engineering our interior maps. In order to have a deeper relationship with our God, we must be more courageous–that is, courageous about revealing the truth, or better said, revealing the lies we tell ourselves.

In the deeper place, the sins are equally prevalent as the ones people can see on the outside: the over-eating, the lusting, the coveting, the breaking of laws (both small and large), the deceptions. Those manifestations found root inside first.

The first lie is the one we tell ourselves.

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Like foot washing, head coverings and the like, the holy kiss has been discussed ad nauseum by many scholars and theologians. Generally, it is accepted that “kissing,” as a greeting is culturally based and not “required” in today’s church. We can just shake hands. But even that is going out of fashion.

I Corinthians 16:20
All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Oh yes, today, we know all about the germs. Those bad boys are putting a crimp in just about everything. And somehow, they seem to be getting worse than ever with each age. But never fear: we now have hand sanitizers everywhere, from the grocery store cart stand to the entrances of most public buildings and even the hallways of movie theaters.

People have become afraid to touch each other, much less kiss or drink from a common communion cup. Pretty soon, after the small plastic cups and tiny white dog biscuits are passed, they’ll follow up with a squirt of sanitizer.

Everything is becoming sanitized and impersonal when we’re face to face while intimacies flourish online. People say things in chat rooms, email, and texting that they would never say to one another in person. Some folks even participate in full blown virtual communities as “avatars” and in some of the worst cases, develop avatar-based intimacies and actually discuss in forums whether it’s cheating on a husband or wife if their avatars are having virtual sex.

Where is the simplicity in relationships?

A friend of mine once bemoaned that people don’t seem to know how to just “get together” and spend time together or just drop by and chat. Neighborhoods where people know each other and chat across a fence are becoming far fewer even though we are living closer and closer together.

The holy kiss greeting is a symbol of connection, a genuine touch of one person to another. This kiss doesn’t even have to be a lip to lip kiss, it can be as simple as authentic eye contact or a genuine hug or a gift of self.

To kiss in this way is to give. But if it’s not real, don’t bother. There are too many people who hug and kiss the air next to someone’s face because of heavy lipstick or some of other hair or make-up interference. Men have stopped kissing their children. I’m beginning to think more people are kissing their dogs than they are kissing other people.

A true kiss is an exchange, that’s all. I can kiss with my eyes, my fingertips, my nose, my feet. I can kiss with my lips. But if there is nothing behind the kiss, I have cheated the other person. If there is no true affection or desire to connect, then there really is no point in doing it.

In some fantasy books, if there is a true connection between people, something happens between them when they touch . . . like a small jolt of electricity. We have lost the ability to send ourselves through touch, through the kiss, through the eyes. How then can we pass Christ?

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I want to do the right thing. I want to be a good mother, wife, and friend. I want to choose well. But truthfully, my “trying” and my desire are not enough.

Romans 7:15; 18b
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

As long as I am trying and doing and choosing in my own strength, I am behaving just like an alcoholic, promising myself and others that I’ll do better “next time.” This is the point of decision: do I keep trying to do it myself or abandon this tactic and truly give myself over to that “higher power?”

Even though I have surrendered a great deal of my life, I am still hanging on to a lot of details. I am still hanging on to what “I want to do” with my life and what my kids should be doing. I am still controlling. I keep taking back the reins particularly when I look around and the environment has become unfamiliar.

God is actually about change. And although I say I love change, it’s change under my control and understanding that I love: change that doesn’t touch the heart of me.

But now, I see, that God is moving me toward the next level. It’s time to move into new terrain.

I have said again and again that I want more intimacy with God in Christ. So, now, I stand at the door. When I open this door, my ability to control the outcome is negligible. My hand is on the latch.

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On Faith

Today begins a new series at our church, 50 Days with Jesus. I hope to share some of my thoughts from my personal study as well as respond to the Pastor’s sermons and/or blog.

Today, Pastor Craig asked, “How do I insure that I will keep the faith?” since there have actually been studies done (Willow Creek Church) showing that “long-term” believers are often those who fall away. That would put me at risk as I have known the Lord since 1979 and I confess, I have felt the ebb and flow of my faith in recent years.

I wouldn’t say that Craig actually answered this question. He reminded us that our faith is key to remaining “connected” with God and Jesus is “the way, the truth, & the life” (Matt 9:20-22) and our faith must be supported by our belief in the Word… but none of these ideas feel like “insurance” to me. Pehaps the answer is that there isn’t any insurance after all.

In my view, keeping my faith “fresh” is up to me. I can’t blame anyone else. I can’t blame the church, the sermons, the pastor, or anything else. I suppose this is one of the reasons I started a new study, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I’ve allowed my “activities” to crowd out time with the Lord and it’s only by spending time with Him that I can have more intimacy and it’s only through intimacy that my faith will grow.

What is faith? Trust and belief. While belief is a choice I think trust is built on intimacy. You must know someone to trust him and you must trust him to obey him. Psalm 84:12 – O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.

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