To be intimate with someone often means something sexual in today’s culture. But the real, intended sense of intimacy means rapport, honest interaction, and mutual trust. This kind of intimacy when it is fostered creates common ground and puts us on the same page with one another and with God. (The Greek word koine, common, gives us community, communion, fellowship, commonality).
In meeting a new person we feel we are drawn to, or someone we think we want to know, we usually sit down together for coffee or on the couch, perhaps facing one another. To break the ice we often talk about our hometown, our parents, education and careers. Eye contact is a good idea when possible. The search is for connections where we're on the same page.
In a broken-down, guilt-ridden, fear-driven age our isolation from God and from one another is very great. A short list of symptoms from loneliness and lack of intimacy with anyone might include the following: Fear of rejection, Fear of Failure. Fear of Disappointment, Fear of Falling in Love, Fear of Betrayal, Fear of the Unknown, Fear of Being Found Out, Fear of Enslavement. Also there is perhaps our Lack of Experience in trusting others, Lack of Role Models, Failure to Bond well in marriage until now, insidious loneliness, frustration, rejection violence are unwanted enemies lurking in the dark.
What would our relationship be like if we could talk to one another, as we usually talk with ourselves in our thought life? What would our relationship with God be like if we could speak with Him in the same way we speak with our friends? This is not as far a stretch as it may sound.
Try this approach with Jesus, having first acknowledged that He has permission to rule your life. Your permission is necessary. Knowing Jesus (or any person) is not a once-for-all mountain top experience, but an challenging adventure lived one day at a time.
“Can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” (Amos 3:3)
God designed very much like Himself, and He wants to relate to us as friends. Friends are supposed to trust one another.
"No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)
He wants us to see others as He sees them! For many, God seems very far away—remote, impersonal—a force, not a Person. This is one of the most common experiences in life. Neither is Jesus remote and indifferent far beyond us some high heaven, He is actually very near to those who draw near to Him.
"He who is joined with the Lord is one with Him in Spirit." (1 Corinthians 6:17)
Intimacy with Jesus is the key to intimacy with other persons! Do we not assume that we must first fix things ourselves and then go looking for God?
"Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind." (Philippians 2:1-2)
In being "like-minded," two-way data streams encompass the communication not only consciously but unconsciously. We all know about good vibes and bad vibes, body language, and the importance of intuition in relationships. It is difficult to “pull the wool over” another person’s eyes if we know ourselves well. Truth is better than lies and deceit, or attempts to manipulate or control each other. In a safe environment we can perhaps trust another human with our pet peeves, our personality type, our hopes and dreams, goals and aspirations. We all long to know and be known, but who can we really trust? “Good vibes” only go so far!
In our natural state, the nature of our dialogs (whether man to man, father to son, mother to daughter, employee to the boss, or lover to beloved), are tailored to our expectations about the other person's likely response. We don't want to "rub that person the wrong way" or start an argument. Relationship can be dangerous, we all are easily deceived by first impressions, desires, and projections (seeing others in our own image). We hope to end up "on the same page,” even when we may be light years apart from the other person. Intimacy with another human being is seldom as it should be. Intimacy with Jesus first, then intimacy with others follows.
The degree of rapport with one’s employer, our relationships with our peers, our siblings, our close friends, the neighbors, our rapport with our doctor and so on—are all different, but in Christ Jesus they are all very important.
I have lived in Silicon Valley south of San Francisco for sixty-eight years now. I won’t go into details about how the area has changed, but I am very aware of a downhill trend in the quality of life here, in spite of our very high affluence. Ominous dread of the future tends to creep in if we are not careful to drown it out and go on living in denial.
Must everyone around me is obviously missing out on real life, living like zombies and running on cruise control. Houses built for $0.1 million 50 years ago now sell for 10 million bucks. At rush hour our modern freeways clog up like a stopped-up sewer line. Worst of all, interpersonal relationships are seemingly frozen at a kindergarten level for the majority living here. Incomes are sky high, but the cost of living is sky-higher. Forget about starting a family in these parts. Worst of all, a cloak of illusion and delusion are pervasive. Cell phone attention-span is about five minutes max. Business transactions are as automated as can be--but classic friendships are nearly extinct. Many marriages seem no better than the most casual affairs I remember from childhood. Loyalty? Commitment? I think not! Attention spans? Minutes at most. It's autopilot existence for the majority. Rare and precious is long-term loyalty and bonding--when it is occasionally discovered here by accident, in these parts of the woods. This is my perception for what it's worth.
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Can you imagine dying in loneliness while surfing the net? Happens all the time where I live. Shutting off the background music stream could bring on a panic attack? How about the pills and drugs and sedatives to help deny what happens when we die? Even facing tomorrow can be too much for some to bear. An escape to Hawaii or Thailand brings only a short relief. This is everyday life here in Silicon Valley behind the facades and the window dressing. Sound familiar? Is life like that where you are living?
Progress and the advancement of civilization are grand illusions as a few discontent people have realize. The mortality rate remains a flat 100%. The Biblical word that sums up the status quo everywhere is L-O-S-T. “Dead in trespasses and sins” is another Biblical phrase for being dead while thinking one is actually alive. Compared to God, we are zoned out and mostly unconscious. God alone has life! He owns the place and is actually running the whole show from a way higher dimension.
“...Do not look at appearance or at physical stature. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
But we are all accountable to that Higher Power!
“...the word (logos) of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
For anyone reading ahead, a complete reversal of the status quo does happen to anybody, rich or poor, who is willing to be be loved by Jesus Christ: One survivor, overcomer, after meeting Jesus wrote,
“...do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:8-12)
The same man (Paul the Apostle) also said,
“...you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:13-15)
With this background in mind, I collected some thoughts on “Intimacy” from a biblical perspective in 1985 and then again a year ago. I decided to update my notes here. For a thorough review of the subject from a secular point of view, Wikipedia is good as usual and Psychology Today has good stuff as well—but don’t get side-tracked there for God’s-sake.
When I was a kid people "fell in love" quite often--for good or for ill. But "love is blind" the old proverb said. To FALL in love was to FALL. Parents said their kid was "having an affair" or was "infatuated," and would "get over it."Today lots of people love their pets more than their kids, or, worse still, they are out-and-out Narcissists! True love is too risky for them. Failed affairs, divorce and suicide from "unrequited love" --are all to common these days. There is much existential despair, everywhere--a prevailing sense of hopelessness and fatalism. What Wikipedia says about falling in love is somewhat humorous:
Falling in love is the development of strong feelings of attachment and love, usually towards another person. The term is metaphorical, emphasizing that the process, like the physical act of falling, is sudden, uncontrollable and leaves the lover in a vulnerable state, similar to "fall ill" or "fall into a trap". It may also reflect the importance of the lower brain centers in the process, which can lead the rational, accounting brain to conclude (in John Cleese's words) that "this falling in love routine is very bizarre....It borders on the occult".
"Factors known to contribute strongly to falling in love include proximity, similarity, reciprocity, and physical attractiveness", while at the same time, the process involves a re-activation of old childhood patterns of attachment. Deep-set psychological parallels between two people may also underpin their pairing-bonding, which can thus border on mere narcissistic identification". Jungians view the process of falling in love as one of projecting the anima or animus onto the other person, with all the potential for misunderstanding that this can involve.
Two chemical reactions associated with falling in love are increases in oxytocin and vasopressin; and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl has suggested that "when we fall in love we are falling into a stream of naturally occurring amphetamines running through the emotional centres of our very own brains".With regard to sociobiology, it is stressed that mate selection cannot be left to the head alone and must require complex neurochemical support. Critics of such Neo-Darwinism point out that over-simplistic physical arguments obscure the way sexual passion often leads not to secure attachment but to attachments thwarted, as well as the sheer frightening difficulties of all falling in love. Biologist Jeremy Griffith suggests that people fall in love in order to abandon themselves to the dream of an ideal state (being one free of the human condition).
"Sexual desire and love not only show differences but also recruit a striking common set of brain areas that mediate somatosensory integration, reward expectation, and social cognition" Neuroimaging studies show that love and sexual desire share common chemical reactions in the brain. Both love and lust show neural activation in regions such as the cortical area (e.g., middle gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, temporo-parietal junction, and occipital-temporal cortices) and the subcortical brain areas (e.g., striatum, thalamus, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and ventral segmental area). The cortical area of the brain is correlated with a persons self-representation, goals-directed actions, and body image while the sub. Neuroimaging can also show the difference between love and desire. Some brain regions that contribute to either love or lust are the anterior insula, posterior insula, and the ventral striatum. The anterior insula activates factors that contribute to love such as integrative representations. Where as the posterior insula are involved with factors that contribute to desire such as current sensations, feelings, and responses. The ventral striatum however, becomes activated during pleasurable rewarding experiences such as sex or food.
Many studies indicate a positive linear correlation between romantic popularity and physical attractiveness for women more than men. Some studies indicate that men subconsciously seek slenderness and sexiness whereas women seek status, permanence, and affluence before they seek physical attractiveness. Stendhal charted the timing of falling in love in terms of what he called crystallization—a first period of crystallization (of some six weeks) which often involves obsessive brooding and the idealization of the other via a coating of desire; a period of doubt; and then a final crystallization of love. Empirical studies suggest that men fall in love earlier than women and women are quicker to fall out of love than men. (Wikipedia)
God set His standard for intimacy with all creation back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve enjoyed intimacy with God and with each other, back then, in the fullest.
However, since the fall, intimacy with God has become occluded. Closeness with God and with one another was taken suddenly away from mankind. The innocence of the Garden in Eden is now gone.
“...And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...” (Genesis 2:7-9)
“...Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God (had) formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable (corresponding) to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
“...And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
But the next major event changed everything:
“...when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
“...And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:6-11)
If Chapter Three of Genesis was missing from the Bible we’d never know how or why things became so broken in the world!
But restored intimacy, unconditional love, and one hundred percent healing has been made available to all of us from our Creator! It is all packaged for us in One Man: Jesus Christ.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.
All things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:15-18)
“For God has committed...all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:32-36)
We must give God permission to heal and to save and to restore us. It is no small task since God is very holy and we are very lost.
Step One is a personal restored relationship with God which is an infinite chasm to bridge. We can’t negotiate nor bargain with God in Step One.
Before we can hope to see our capacity for intimacy with other persons restored, we each must discover that trusting Jesus as Lord and Master comes first. All forms of intimacy which leave out Jesus are superficial and even dangerous.
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” (John 10:7-14)
Assuming you and Jesus are now on common ground, you may safely proceed to Step Two which is intimacy with select other people. Obviously intimacy with anyone other than Jesus is selective and privileged and can be very foolish and very risky. Not everyone you would like to know better wants to know you! Some people we need to stay away from, some we can not ever trust. But Jesus you can trust with your life!
“This is the stone which was rejected by the builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12)
All kinds of levels of rapport or intimacy or agreements to work together—exist in our world. Think about employer/employee ties, man and wife in marriage, parents and children, best friends and peers, your fellow Christians at church, in-laws, care givers you respect, such as doctors.
This article is limited to intimacy as a capacity God built in into us from the beginning. How to get it repaired and operational is another story!
What Knowing God Involves
A Complex Business
It is clear, to start with, that “knowing” God is of necessity a more complex business than “knowing” another person, just as “knowing” my neighbor is a more complex business than “knowing” a house or a book or a language. The more complex the object, the more complex is the knowing of it. Knowledge of something abstract, like a language, is acquired by learning; knowledge of something inanimate, like Ben Nevis or the British Museum, comes by inspection and exploration. These activities, though demanding in terms of concentrated effort, are relatively simple to describe. But when one gets to living things, knowing them becomes a good deal more complicated. One does not know a living thing till one knows not merely its past history but how it is likely to react and behave under specific circumstances. A person who says, “I know this horse,” normally means not just “I have seen it before” (though the way we use words, he might mean only that); more probably, however, he means “I know how it behaves, and can tell you how it ought to be handled.” Such knowledge comes only through some prior acquaintance with the horse, seeing it in action and trying to handle it oneself.
J. I. Packer’s insightful and practical approach to understanding God has impacted countless Christians throughout the world as they are introduced to the wonder and joy of knowing God. Now available in a beautiful hardcover edition.
In the case of human beings, the position is further complicated by the fact that, unlike horses, people keep secrets. They do not show everybody all that is in their hearts. A few days are enough to get to know a horse as well as you will ever know it, but you may spend months and years doing things in company with another person and still have to say at the end of that time, “I don’t really know him at all.” We recognize degrees in our knowledge of our fellow men. We know them, we say, well, not very well, just to shake hands with, intimately, or perhaps inside out, according to how much, or how little, they have opened up to us.
Thus, the quality and extent of our knowledge of other people depends more on them than on us. Our knowing them is more directly the result of their allowing us to know them than of our attempting to get to know them. When we meet, our part is to give them our attention and interest, to show them good will, and to open up in a friendly way from our side. From that point, however, it is they, not we, who decide whether we are going to know them or not.
Imagine, now, that we are going to be introduced to someone whom we feel to be “above” us—whether in rank or intellectual distinction or professional skill or personal sanctity or in some other respect. The more conscious we are of our own inferiority, the more we shall feel that our part is simply to attend to this person respectfully and let him take the initiative in the conversation. (Think of meeting the queen of England or the president of the United States.) We would like to get to know this exalted person, but we fully realize that this is a matter for him to decide, not us. If he confines himself to courteous formalities with us, we may be disappointed, but we do not feel able to complain; after all, we had no claim on his friendship.
But if instead he starts at once to take us into his confidence and to tell us frankly what is in his mind on matters of common concern, and if he goes on to invite us to join him in particular undertakings he has planned and asks us to make ourselves permanently available for this kind of collaboration whenever he needs us, then we shall feel enormously privileged, and it will make a world of difference to our general outlook. If life seemed unimportant and dreary hitherto, it will not seem so anymore, now that the great man has enrolled us among his personal assistants. Here is something to write home about—and something to live up to!
Now this, so far as it goes, is an illustration of what it means to know God. Well might God say through Jeremiah, “Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me” (Jeremiah 9:24)—for knowing God is a relationship calculated to thrill a person’s heart.
What happens is that the almighty Creator, the Lord of hosts, the great God before whom the nations are as a drop in a bucket, comes to you and begins to talk to you through the words and truths of Holy Scripture. Perhaps you have been acquainted with the Bible and Christian truth for many years, and it has meant little to you; but one day you wake up to the fact that God is actually speaking to you—you!—through the biblical message. As you listen to what God is saying, you find yourself brought very low; for God talks to you about your sin and guilt and weakness and blindness and folly, and compels you to judge yourself hopeless and helpless, and to cry out for forgiveness.
But this is not all. You come to realize as you listen that God is actually opening his heart to you, making friends with you and enlisting you as a colleague—in Karl Barth’s phrase, a “covenant partner.”1 It is a staggering thing, but it is true—the relationship in which sinful human beings know God is one in which God, so to speak, takes them onto his staff, to be henceforth his fellow workers (see 1 Cor. 3:9) and personal friends. The action of God in taking Joseph from prison to become Pharaoh’s prime minister is a picture of what he does to every Christian: from being Satan’s prisoner, you find yourself transferred to a position of trust in the service of God. At once life is transformed.
Whether being a servant is a matter for shame or for pride depends on whose servant one is. Many have said what pride they felt in rendering personal service to Sir Winston Churchill during World War II. How much more should it be a matter of pride and glorying to know and serve the Lord of heaven and earth!
What, then, does the activity of knowing God involve? Holding together the various elements involved in this relationship as we have sketched it out, we must say that knowing God involves, first, listening to God’s word and receiving it as the Holy Spirit interprets it, in application to oneself; second, noting God’s nature and character, as his word and works reveal it; third, accepting his invitations and doing what he commands; and fourth, recognizing and rejoicing in the love that he has shown in thus approaching you and drawing you into this divine fellowship.
This article is adapted from Knowing God by J. I. Packer.
J. I. Packer (1926–2020) served as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College. He authored numerous books, including the classic bestseller Knowing God. Packer also served as general editor for the English Standard Version Bible and as theological eåditor for the ESV Study Bible.
A huge cultural divide exists these days in our nation between those over thirty and an entire generation of younger persons who march to the beat of different drummers. Failing to see and experience Jesus in those of us who are older, they have become lost in space, seeking intimacy and love in all the wrong places. The result is isolation, terrible loneliness and existential despair. “Cultural Christianity” is a curse and not a blessing. Sixty or seventy percent of Americans may profess to be Christians, but the real “remnant” is perhaps only 5%. The real Jesus has been marginalized now more than ever.
But we all are incurably religious. Either we know and love and gladly serve the One God who created us, or we default to serving idols. Americans today are very idolatrous to say the least. Only the true Jesus can guide us back to reality.
James goes characteristically even further:
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)
Most challenging of all is how we relate, or fail to relate, with the opposite sex! The latter category is where we all fail to see that the image of God in man is masculine and feminine! Half of life is best understood from a woman’s point of view (though we men may deny this vehemently). Men and women are alike in spirit, but different in body and soul. Yet God enables us the bond with one another whether we are young or old, male or female. Families, churches, communities, societies, alliances all depend upon mutual trust, bonding, commonalities that we all agree with.
Two women or two men can be best friends and even live together in productive ways that are are of great value. Only about 20% of the population is married! The other 80% ought to enjoy some form of real intimacy just as deeply!
David and Jonathan were probably twenty years apart in age when they established a covenant friendship of loyal-love which lasted until Jonathan was killed in battle. Saul, Jonathan’s dad was deeply disturbed by David’s intimacy with his son and he slandered the two men by suggesting their friendship was sexual which it was not. But Saul never came to understand intimacy with God either! (1 Samuel 20:30-31).
David’s lament over his slain friend is recorded in 2 Samuel 1:25-27:
“Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives,Jonathan died too soon to be a healing long-term mentor to David who was probably 20 years younger. In a fit of rage, Saul accused his son Jonathan of having a homosexual relationship with David, which was not the case. David did not exactly go on to a one-woman marriage and well balanced offspring, but the bond between these two was very great. The flaws in David are recorded in 2 Samuel. David had 8 wives and many concubines for example. He was not exactly a one-woman man. He had numerous conflicts with his sons who saw him as a poor father-figure. But in His relationship with Jesus seen in Psalm 18, David more than triumphed over all these circumstances!
And in their death they were not divided;
They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions.
“O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
Who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury;
Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the
“How the mighty have fallen,
And the weapons of war perished!”
David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan.
(He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.)
Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places!
How the mighty have fallen!
Tell it not in Gath,
proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon;
or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice,
the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.
You mountains of Gilboa,
let there be no dew or rain upon you,
nor bounteous fields!
For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.
From the blood of the slain,
from the fat of the mighty,
the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
nor the sword of Saul return empty.
Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
In life and in death they were not divided;
they were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
who clothed you with crimson, in luxury,
who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
How the mighty have fallen
in the midst of the battle!
Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
How the mighty have fallen,
and the weapons of war perished! (2 Samuel 1)
Since God created us in His image and likeness, we all long to connect and to bond with others. Shy persons and the extroverts alike don’t really want to be left alone. The first negative in the Bible is the Creator’s words about Adam: “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (Genesis 2:18) We are not living in a safe world of innocent and trustworthy fellow-travelers either, but God wants us to love, know and serve others nonetheless. Jesus Christ is very much alive and well. Can we trust Him all the way to cover us as we step out faithfully in relationship? All other relationships in life reflect how well or how poorly we know Jesus.
Even when we are unfaithful, God is faithful. One might think He would be the easiest and most natural relationship anyone could ever have. Jesus is meek and humble in spirit, not remote or indifferent to the human condition. “In Christ” we need not fear His holy anger or come cringing before Him the way we might before a disapproving and mean earthly and distant father. Evidently God can not be coerced, bribed or impressed by pedigrees, diplomas, awards or better genes either. “All who wish to may come.” He is a friend to the sinner and an enemy to the hypocritical Pharisee in each of us. Jesus linked the outward behavior of murder with the inward attitude of condemnation. (See Matthew 5:21-22)
Yes, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." But what about God's children, those of us born and grafted into His family? Can we not call Him "Abba?" Of course we can, and we can encourage others to as well. When Jesus died in our place, He did more than die in my place, "God was, in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself..." Is Jesus really the gateway to knowing Father-God? Can I trust Him fully?
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me." (Matthew 18:1-5)
"There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3)
The Apostle Paul, writing to fellow followers of Jesus in Rome (c. 62 AD) in Romans 3, goes on to talk about the self-righteous, his fellow Jews--so as to close the loop, full circle to include all of us in his indictment of us all. The answer to our lost estate is to be found in our fully trusting Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me."
Jesus demonstrated his trustworthiness by living as a man born and growing up in Israel. His life was lived in total harmony with Yahweh, the God of Israel. But following his mission brought about his murder by his fellow Jews. Jesus did not stay dead for long. Just three days later he was back, talking to his people, eating at table with his amazed disciples, etc. Jesus spent the next forty days appearing and disappearing at will to his Jewish followers. He then ascended into a higher "dimension" promising to return and send His Holy Spirit who would "tell us all things." Jesus is today seated with God the Father. Having died for all human beings who have ever lived, Jesus is, at this very moment, Lord over all lords and King of all kings. He is not only Deity but fully man. Jesus Christ, the man, is today seated at the highest place of power and authority in the universe. If He is capable of running the universe then why is He not best to run my life and yours?
Can Jesus help us? No one else can! Does he know how frail and weak we are? Is Jesus not "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief?" (Isaiah 53). It is our pride which makes us SELF-righteous!
Pride comes in two basic forms: the outward form is visible in those exploitive empire builders--the rich, the famous and the super-successful--or in the stubborn and recalcitrant ones who mask their inward pride behind all manner of cover ups. No matter! Pride is pride no matter what form it takes.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Be humbled therefore under the mighty hand of God and in due time he will exalt you." (James 4:6)
Jesus said He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Eternal life starts now and lasts forever. Everyone will live forever in one sense since we are mostly software. But God alone has real life. Living in His presence and depending on Him for everything is our only real option. God IS Love and He has enough love for everyone.
"...let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. " (1 John 4:7-11)
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.".
This text is the ‘locus classicus’ for the doctrine of circumincession (Latin) for perichoresis (Greek), which attempts to express the ineffable internal dynamism of the mutual interrelationships of the Persons of the Trinity. Any good systematic theology can be a sufficient guide on this holy ground of the ‘opera ad intra’ = the specific and unique “works” or relational characteristic internal to the Trinity. These are quite distinct from the “economical” roles in which the Persons function externally toward us, particularly in Creation, Providence, and Salvation. Attempting to grasp what is ultimately only experientially accessible to God is a hazardous venture, as Ivo of Chartes said regarding the doctrine of ‘perichoresis,' “It is a mystery of faith: It can be looked into profitably, but not without danger.’
For the time being, we only know in part since we simply do not yet have even the capacity for full access or experience (hence the prayers of both Jesus and Paul). But we have already, in fact, obtained at least “a taste of the powers of the Age to come” and have received the seal of the Holy Spirit, our ‘arrabon’ or down-payment in kind that guarantees the full inheritance. Because we can only partially experience intimacy with God and with one another in this age does not invalidate the measure of that experience which we do already have, and are expected to continue growing up into during the entire span of our sojourn..
And, of course, the intimacy of the Son and Father is precisely what was temporarily interrupted on the cross in Jesus’ experience: “Eloi, lama sabachthani?” so that we could regain Edenic intimacy with the Almighty." --Bryce Self. May 21, 2019.
A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness
A Psalm of David.
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindness,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
Who is the man that fears the Lord?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!
Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.
Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.
Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!
The Bride of Christ / The Wife of Jehovah
Love and Relationships — the Song of Solomon
Realistic Expectations by Dave Roper
Rebellious but Religious
Jesus, Son if God, Son of Man
Solomon’s Song of Love
One Body, One Soul, One Spirit
Made in the Image of God
It Takes Three to Tango
Logos and Sophia
God our Father
A Personal God
On Intimacy by Lambert Dolphin (1985)
What is a Christian by Glenn Miller
Christlike Love, Intimacy, and Small Groups by Ray Stedman
“The Lord (Yahweh) said to my Lord (Adonai)
Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness,
from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
He shall drink of the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He shall lift up the head.” (Psalm 110)
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