In my last post I began looking at the theme of intimacy with God, ending with a brief look at some of the ways God speaks to us. I’d love to spend more time exploring the awesome variety of ways in which we can hear from God, but first I want to address a very basic question. Is it even possible for finite, imperfect, flawed human beings to have an intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe? Sure, Jesus had that kind of relationship with God, but wasn’t he different? Should ordinary people like us expect to walk and talk with God on a regular basis? Shouldn’t most of us be satisfied with a distant, nodding acquaintance with God, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best – that we’ll get His favour rather than the back of His hand?
Sadly, many who have grown up in a so-called Christian culture have never seen intimacy with God modelled, and I’m convinced this is one of the reasons why there has been such a resurgence of interest in Eastern religions and the New Age movement in the last 30-40 years – because the human heart desires an experiential relationship with God, and many will be attracted by a counterfeit especially if the availability of the real thing is not widely known.
But Biblical Christianity – as modelled by Jesus and the apostles – is all about intimacy. In the rest of this post I want to take a few minutes to persuade you – if you needed persuading – that intimacy with God is what you and I were made for, and that it is both desireable and possible.
The Biblical assertion that humans are made in God’s image tells us that from the beginning, God designed and intended for us to have a close relationship with Himself. In a powerful word picture found in Genesis 2:7, we are told that God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils. Imagine drawing your first breath (as a fully-grown adult, not an infant) and in your first moment of conscious existence you discover the Creator of the Universe right in your face, gently breathing His breath into you. That’s intimacy!
So, why do we believe intimacy is not possible? Basically, because we live in a fallen world and our hearts have been damaged by our own sin and the sins of others against us. We are children of a fallen Adam and Eve, who were tricked by the snake into seeking independence from God, thinking it would lead to freedom. Instead, it led to bondage.
The amazing good news, though, is that Jesus came to earth to pay the price for sin, and by his wounds we are healed. He came to restore us, to re-establish intimacy with God. Yes, intimacy. He did not come just so that we could be forgiven and go to heaven when we die – as wonderful as that is. He came so that we could enter into eternal life – the new life of the Kingdom of God – from the moment we first put our faith in Him.
The wonderful good news is Jesus really is the way to the Father, and if we have come to Him to have our sins forgiven and our hearts restored, then there need be no barrier between us and God. You have a Father who loves you and wants you to walk in a close relationship with Him. He has given you a guide – the Holy Spirit – who can teach you and instruct you along the way. In the New Jerusalem we will see God face to face. Until then, we are on a journey – but it’s a journey that is intended to lead us closer to God, not farther from Him.
In future posts I will explore some of the things we can do to foster intimacy with God. But the most important single factor in experiencing an intimate relationship with God is faith – the confident expectation that God loves you, has forgiven your sins, and wants you to have a close relationship with Him in which you hear His voice daily. If that is your desire, He has made it possible. I was once an atheist, and even after becoming a believer in Jesus, for years I was emotionally distant from God. But God has healed and restored my heart, and taught me how to receive His love and how to love Him. I’m still growing, but I can now say with confidence that anyone who is thirsty may drink freely of the water of life which flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22). Come, Lord Jesus!