And, behold, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat to eat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37-38 KJ2000)
What a moving story about love we read about here in the Gospel of Luke! Have you ever thought of the Bible not as a text book on God and His Kingdom or a rule book or bylaws for the church to follow, but rather a group of love letters bound in a book from Jesus to us? Man once knew true intimacy with God. Adam and Eve walked in the garden with God in the cool of the day and they were totally naked and knew no shame or separation from God. They were one. Adam named the animals with Him and He saw that Adam could not find an appropriate counterpart among them so He put Adam to sleep and created Eve out of one of his ribs. These two were one flesh by God’s design. She was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. It was not until they tried to take the fast track and become like God, knowing both good and evil that knew shame and hid from Him and covered themselves with fig leaves. They hid from God and they hid from themselves out of shame. When God came looking for them He knew where they were… He is the all-knowing God, but He said, “Where are you, Adam?” He wanted Adam to know where he was and from where he had fallen and the fellowship he had lost by this simple act of trying to be like God without God. I think that God was heart-broken. “Where are you, Adam? Why have you left me?” Paul wrote many millennia later that Christ was crucified from the foundations of the world. He was way ahead of the wiles of the wicked one and we who are His were crucified with Him and all our sins were nailed with Him on that cross.
Adam and Eve lost their deep spiritual intimacy that fateful day. Christians seem to be paranoid of it. If a person speaks of an intimate relationship with Jesus as the one who loves them and speaks to them, many people will call them a “mystic”: and go running the other way! The words “intimacy” and “mystic” are not found in the Bible, but this experience is spoken of in many ways. God desires intimacy with His creation and always has. After the fall we read about Enoch who walked with God and God took him. We read about Noah who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, Abraham being a friend of God. God spoke with Moses as a man, face to face and Samuel was so close to God that all his words were God’s words with none of his words falling to the ground. David, even though he sinned grossly, was still a man after God’s own heart who also knew how to repent. All these relationships speak of intimacy with God.
We also read in many places where God speaks of Israel as His wife or bride and of their infidelity to Him down through the years after they left Egypt as His chosen people. Stephen was so bold as to say to the leaders of the Jews,
And they [the Hebrews] made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Rephan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. (Acts 7:41-43 KJ2000)
They were unfaithful to His love right from the beginning! And it was this unfaithfulness to His love that made them go on to kill the One whom the Father sent to them to redeem them from their sin, Jesus Christ. Stephen went on to say,
But Solomon built him [God] a house. Yet the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things? You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them who showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: (Acts 7:47-52 KJ2000)
All those years they had the tabernacle of meeting which was located by His order outside the camp because of their sin. They would stand in the doors of their tents and watch Moses walk by every day outside the camp to meet with the Lord and none of them joined him! God was just a curiosity to them, yet they would meet at the tabernacle of Moloch and worship Rephan! How cruel they were to His loving heart all those years.
So, Jesus, God’s own Son, was sent to earth to show us what an intimate relationship with His Father looks like. He spoke of God as “our Father.” And God spoke of Jesus as His Son. Then we read in Paul’s letters that it was God’s plan all along that he might have many loving and obedient sons and daughters unto His glory and that Jesus Christ was only the First Born of many brethren. Luke quotes Jesus saying that we will be like the angels of God in heaven, not marrying but I believe that we will all be equally bonded to Christ and one another in one great fellowship of love. Heaven is a place of great intimacy, not a place where Bible scholars endlessly speculate on the things of God by the power of their intellects like the Sadducees, the scribes and the Pharisees did 2000 years ago while they ignored the One who loved them. Yes, the Bible is a love letter showing us the heart of God toward us not a text book.
Let There Be Light!
John the apostle had much to say about light regarding God. He spoke of Jesus in these words, “In him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… [He is] the true light, which enlightens everyone…” (John 1:4-9 ESV). Jesus is the Light that illuminates everyone. We are without excuse if we go on seeking to cover up our sin and live in darkness.
John later would write, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7 KJ2000).
Jesus Christ is God’s Light, piercing and purifying light. When He, Christ, comes again He will destroy the devil and his word with His pure light. Christ sheds His light upon us we have a choice to make, to run from the Light out of fear of being exposed, or to run to the Light and be cleansed and made pure and free from sin that has controlled us, destroying the works of the devil. To be a follower of Christ is to walk in the light as He is in the light of the Father. Again we see God’s great call for intimacy and fellowship with His creation.
Light by its very nature generates intimacy… there is nothing left to hide. If you hold your hand up to a bright light you can see your bones inside of them! How much more intense is the Light who’s Father is the Father of Lights? Those who walk in the light as He is in the light are God’s lights in this dark world. Through the work of Christ in our lives we can be restored to what was lost before the fall of man, walking with God in an intimate, spiritual nakedness before Him and we can also become one with one another in this same Light of Life. In this passage is where Christ’s Light and Life come together. His light purifies us so that we can walk in the light with one another without reaching for our religious fig leaves of doctrines and our coverings of self-righteousness.
Notice that John says that in the Light of Christ we DO the truth, not just study and give mental assent and lip service to it. It is walking in this truth and light with one another that we have opportunity for such rich fellowship and honesty with one another IN HIM and in His great love. Regarding true fellowship, Paul wrote something that is becoming richer to me by the day,
“Therefore from now on know we no man [or woman] after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 KJ2000)
How quick we seek to know one another “after the flesh.” How many of us have asked God to help us see our brothers and sisters after the Spirit? The disciples had known Jesus after the flesh… in His earthly body, but Paul had seen Him in His spiritual body and was converted from a hater of Christ and His body on earth to one transformed by His blinding light and changed forever into a lover of Christ and those who are His. None of the apostles saw the meaning of the Old Testament with New Covenant eyes like Paul.
It is dangerous in our old Adamic way of thinking to be exposed to God’s light and to be truly open with one another in His truth, so most Christians live a life of pretense with one another out of fear. The challenge is to pray that God puts us into fellowship with those who have embraced the Light of Christ so that we can walk with them in all honesty without pretense. This makes us vulnerable to them and they to us… this is what real love relationships are all about; openness, faith, love, hope, forgiving one another quickly when we blow it… knowing that in this great fellowship with Jesus, His blood is there to cleanse us from all sin that we might be restored to Him perfectly and to one another as we seek His love for one another (see 1 John 1:7).
Intimacy, Faith and Light Go Together
The Father’s desire for us has never changed from the very beginning! Here we see that for us to have intimacy with Him requires that we draw near unto Him and walk with Him in His marvelous light, in so much of HIS light that it rids us of any darkness that is still in us. It is here that we start to walk in the truth as God sees it… no darkness, walking in the light as HE is in the light as sons and daughters of God. Jesus told the woman at the well that those who would worship the Father must do it in Spirit and in Truth, not by going to some holy building or shrine on a mountain. The light of the Spirit of Christ is needed so that we will BE truth, not just talk about it for He is the Spirit of Truth. What a purging this requires of us! It requires us to take up the cross of Christ that pursues any darkness in us and puts it to death. Then we see in this passage one more thing… if WE (two or three who gather in His name) are walking in the light as HE is in the light we have fellowship not only with the Father and the Son, but with one another as members of that Light. Yet,
I as a child always longed for an intimate relationship with another. My own father was distant to all of us in the family and I remember my mom complaining to me as a young teen about feeling used, but never loved. My own experience was the same. I remember how treacherous my peers were. They would fain love or friendship to get me to reveal something intimate about myself and then run out and reveal it to others and make a mockery of me. After becoming a Christian and finding Christ’s love for the first time I only assumed that His people would be different and that at least I would be part of an intimate functional family. Well, that hope got dashed as well. Living with Christians was like tip-toeing through a mine field. I was never sure what would set the next one off. So here I am writing an intimate letter about God’s love and light, hoping that you will relate and be able to respond in kind.
There are some important things in the above passage from First John that seem to escape most Christians. The message, the very Gospel of Christ, bids us to come into His light and let all our darkness be expelled and this requires trust (a.k.a., faith)! Can we trust ourselves over to Him? In the book by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe there is a dialogue about Aslan (a Christ figure) that is very telling, “Is Aslan safe?” “No, He’s not safe! He is a Lion, but He is good!” Once we take the plunge of faith in Christ we find out that God really is good, but after a while we find out that He also requires us to trust Him to an ever greater extent if we are to keep following Him into greater light. As our Great Physician we must yield once again to Him in this role in our lives while He cuts out of us all that is cancerous to our eternity and intimacy with Him. It is here that most Christians seek safety rather than total healing, abandoning themselves totally to Him. The world is full of Christians, but there are few Kingdom of God saints that have totally thrown their trust on Him and allowed Him to do some painful things in and to us which require an even greater faith than “the slipping up on one little finger with every eye closed and every head bowed.” We must follow Him into the Valley of the Shadow of Death in total trust and most will not go there out of fear. Many start out following Christ, but like the ancient Hebrews, they fail to enter into God’s rest by the same example of fear and unbelief which kept them from receiving all that was promised them. They fail to go in and posses the good land, Zion which is above, where Christ dwells with the Father in a unity and intimacy that is begging to be ours as well.
It is here, I believe, that the rubber starts to hit the road in HIS kingdom. In Christ’s kingdom where HE is King there is light and everyone’s secrets are revealed, in short, Intimacy is required. No more fig leaf garments. No more listening to the Serpent who constantly is telling us that we or “so and so” is naked, tempting us to know one another after the flesh. It is here that we can dare to walk in His light and we are covered by HIS righteousness and not our own. It is here that we can know one another after His Spirit in us.
We can spend our whole life as a nominal church Christian and never have to be honest with one another as we dance “the dance of the seven veils,” but never remove them all. We can get away with this lukewarm approach “in church” for we only have to fake it for one hour a week! THAT is not true fellowship. THAT is a form of prostitution where we use God and one another to do our weekly spiritual “duty” without entering into the vulnerability of His love! Christians as well as the people of this world tend to be like two porcupines trying to stay warm on a cold winter night. We are constantly coming together for warmth, being poked by the other and then fleeing apart once again seeking safety instead of warmth. Each time this happens it takes longer for us to enter into a close relationship where we might find His love again. Fear has caused many of us to stay at a distance from one another all these years and keep Christ at a distance as well. John wrote, “If you don’t love your brother whom you can see, how can you say you love God whom you can’t see.”
Yet, we love movies and books where the couple portrayed finds intimacy and love (“The Lake House” is one of my favorites), but this is done safely at a distance in the privacy of our minds. We live out our longings and lives in a vicarious way and as a result we are never satisfied. Women choose romance novels and men choose pornography and they can never get enough. This is exactly what religion is… a holy man up front doing all the relationship stuff with God for us vicariously while we remain safe in our padded pews at a distance, just like the Hebrew children did when God invited them to sup with Him on the holy mountain… “You go up, Moses! He is not safe!” Love and intimacy are not safe, but they are good! When I find another dear saint that longs for intimacy with Christ and His body the way I do, it can be a dangerous situation. I am never sure whether we will start down that road together and then turn on one another out of fear as the light of Christ gets ever brighter. This kind of tension is shear torment. Fear has torment. Further on John wrote,
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:16-21 KJV – emphasis added)
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Notice the order of things here. First we have to walk in the light, intimacy, and have intimate fellowship with Jesus and with one another. It is here that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. Sin is a fact of life’s interactions, but God has made provision for that so we can keep going and learn to walk in greater holiness as we are conformed into the image of Christ. I think that we have a too narrow definition of sin. Sin in the old English means to “fall short.” God’s idea of us falling short is when we settle for a Christian life that has not come into the fullness of His Son within us. Is intimacy safe? No! Some will slip back into sin because of the openness with one another that it requires. BUT the blood of Jesus Christ is there to cleanse us from all sin so we can continue to press into His Life and Light reality, the Kingdom of God in our midst. Intimacy with God first leads us to walk in God’s light as Jesus is in the light, THEN we who are secure in that fellowship with the Father and the Son can have true intimate fellowship and walk in the light of truth with one another. What a travesty that the sons and daughters of God are so fearful and distant with one another when we could truly be ONE even as Jesus and the Father are ONE, just like Jesus prayed before He went to the cross,
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:15-26 ESV)