Intimacy isn’t just a nice idea. It’s not icing on the cake. Humans are made for intimacy. It’s deeply knit into the fiber of who we are. But so often, it seems like a mystery and something that either happens or doesn’t. But what are some of the components of intimacy, and how do we cultivate it?
1. Time Spent
The book of Mark talks about Jesus’ intentional pursuit of intimacy through time spent.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
It’s in these intimate moments that we come to discover who we are and what our purpose is. The next verses of this story speak of Simon coming to get Jesus to talk to the crowds who have gathered to hear him. But Jesus says “no” and that there are other plans for the day. Jesus wasn’t distracted by the lure of fame or the expectations of his friends and these strangers. In this time spent with God, Jesus increased in wisdom and a deeper understanding of his purpose.
In time spent together, we become like one another.
I remember watching Curb Your Enthusiasm for the first time. Larry David, the main character, has a set of rules by which he lives his life, and he spends much of his time attempting to conform others to his rules. It’s funny. But one word that can accurately describe Larry is “obnoxious.” The thing is, I have some Larry David tendencies, and I was noticing that I was being a little louder than usual about my opinions and expectations as I watched the show.
The simple fact is this … we become like those we spend our time with. Time spent is a key factor to deepening relationships—both with God and with others.
2. Stirred Affections
Sometimes, we have a tendency to downplay our emotional engagement with God. I’ve heard people at many times dismiss a time of worship or a group of people because “Oh, they’re just too emotional.”
But we see powerful and stirring moments in the lives of the people of the Bible all the time. Moments that surely affected their emotions. Moses encountering God in the form of a not-burning bush. Later encountering his glory as it passed by. Jacob wrestling with God and changing his name to Israel. Saul encountering Jesus on a road, being blinded and being healed again. I can’t imagine any of these moments being discounted as “simply emotional experiences.”
The reality is that emotional engagement is key to any healthy relationship.
The same is true for our relationship with God. Just look at Psalms and we begin to see the value of stirred affections as we see the psalmist compose.
3. Openness and Vulnerability
Recently, I heard a pastor talk about the fact that we often discuss “knowing God,” but we rarely discuss “letting God know us.” But something powerful happens to our intimacy when we allow someone to see the depths of who we are. Sure, God could technically rip open our chest and force us to bear our lives to him. But what kind of intimacy is that?
In Matthew 7:22-23, Jesus says,
Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
These people “knew” God to the point that they could do immensely powerful things in His name. But, they didn’t allow God to know them. “I never knew you.” The thing is,
In openness and vulnerability, we rely on one another.