What does it mean to have intimacy with our Lord? Jesus often indicated that God desires intimacy with all of us. For instance, in John chapters ten and fifteen, He is a Shepherd that calls His sheep by name and leads them in a personal way. He is the Vine and we, His branches, are attached directly to Him and we get all our nourishment from Him. Even evangelical churches call Him our Personal Savior. But after we get saved in one of these institutions, how “personal” does He become to us?
Most of us grow up in families that are very fractured and in most, even the best of them, time spent with our parents in an intimate way is very rare due to the pressures of supporting a family and so many other distractions like TV. Then there is “church.”
In my own experience with “church,” the machine divides the family from having time together more than it promotes family intimacy. There is the need to be at the church every time it is open; Sunday morning service that ushers the kids off to “children’s church;” Sunday school that is divided up by age groups; Wednesday night prayer service that doesn’t welcome kids; and all the kid and youth activities at the church during the week. Let’s not forget to mention Royal rangers and church youth camp. On and on it goes, all in the name of promoting a “Godly family.” Go figure!
The same thing happens with our own “personal” relationships with Christ. We get “saved” and then what happens? We are told that we need to sit and listen to sermons delivered by one man. We have go to Sunday school classes with their man-made curriculums (and even fill in the blanks) in a one-size-fits-all lesson plan. If we dare to share what is really on our hearts on “prayer meeting night,” it is sure to become the gossip for the church “prayer chain” during the week. So we learn to be secluded, isolated and divided instead of truly becoming members one of another as the Church was meant to do.
The Machine prevails in the lives of most Christians. Their “relationship” with who they think God is becomes like that scene our of 1984, where all the people have blank stares on their faces as they watch Big Brother on the screen and are filled with his mind controlling propaganda. Is it any wonder that Christian circles have a “group speak” that is blindly followed that dictates what is proper to say and what is not?
So, what must happen in the life of a saint that is caught-up in this system for him or her to find that intimacy with the Lord Jesus had in mind when He saved them? Soren Kierkegaard wrote,
“We warn young people against going to dens of iniquity, even out of curiosity, because no one knows what might happen. Still more terrible, however, is the danger of going along with the crowd. In truth, there is no place, not even one most disgustingly dedicated to lust and vice, where a human being is more easily corrupted – than in the crowd.
“Even though every individual possesses the truth, when he gets together in a crowd, untruth will be present at once, for the crowd is untruth. It either produces impenitence and irresponsibility or it weakens the individual’s sense of responsibility by placing it in a fractional category.
“For instance, imagine an individual walking up to Christ and spitting on him. No human being would ever have the courage or the audacity to do that. But as part of a crowd, well then they somehow have the “courage” to do it – dreadful untruth!
“The crowd is indeed untruth. Christ was crucified because he would have nothing to do with the crowd (even though he addressed himself to all). He did not want to form a party, an interest group, a mass movement, but wanted to be what he was, the truth, which is related to the single individual. Therefore everyone who will genuinely serve the truth is by that very fact a martyr. To win a crowd is no art; for that only untruth is needed, nonsense, and a little knowledge of human passions. But no witness to the truth dares to get involved with the crowd.
“His work is to be involved with all people, if possible, but always individually, speaking with each and every person on the sidewalk and on the streets – in order to split apart. He avoids the crowd, especially when it is treated as authoritative in matters of the truth or when its applause, or hissing, or balloting are regarded as judges. He avoids the crowd with its herd mentality more than a decent young girl avoids the bars on the harbor.
“Those who speak to the crowd, coveting its approval, those who deferentially bow and scrape before it must be regarded as being worse than prostitutes. They are instruments of untruth.”
There is so much truth here! When they were spitting on and mocking Jesus, it was the crowd who persecuted Him. The same soldier who spit on Him never would have come up to Him privately and done so. The same thing is true of worship and prayer. When we come together in a crowd and try to express openly what we feel, we are shut down and end up singing a canned song from a hymnal or praying a canned prayer from a prayer book. At best, we might pray something out loud that we know won’t get us ridiculed by the rest of the crowd.
How did Jesus really teach? He was always intimate when He taught. Yes, he taught the crowds in parables, but He gave the meanings of those parables to His hand-selected disciples, and often spoke to them individually as He addressed their heart issues. Even the twelve were whittled down to three when he went up on the mountain to meet with His Father, and only John had the title, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” A herd mentality or a mind imprisoned by a church system won’t let you hear the truth about what it means to be intimate with Jesus. It saddens me when people who claim to be Christians have a group identity that is more important to them than their true identity that is found by abiding IN Christ.
Jesus was and is intimate! He taught the woman at the well privately. He taught Nicode’mus (or at least tried to), but not the Sanhedrin. He had a close friendship with the family of Lazarus and especially Mary. He spoke to Nathaniel about what He saw him doing under the fig tree. He called Matthew the tax collector in a personal way and no one else that day. He spoke salvation personally to the woman caught in adultery and condemnation to her religious persecutors. He picked out Zacchaeus from the crowd and had dinner with him. Jesus was and is a Personal Savior! Imagine the intimacy of the woman kissing His feet, washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair in Simon’s house. All Simon the Pharisee could was to judge them both. Religion is cold and impersonal at best, and so are church services, for the most part. Many people like it that way and feel “safe” lost in the crowd at their mega-churches. Toward the end of the time when I was still trying to find Jesus in church services and conferences, He always spoke to me about things that were unrelated to the service. He was becoming my personal Christ!
Christians are fearful of intimacy! Prudish religion tells us that intimacy is an evil word and is something to be avoided at all costs least the flesh rise up and get involved. In true conversion and salvation, our stoney fleshly heart is removed and we are given the heart of Christ! Our old sinful minds are replaced with the mind of Christ and His commandment of love is written on our hearts (read Jeremiah 31:31-33, Ezekiel 36: 26-27 and Hebrews 8).
Jesus insists that He is coming back for His bride and loves her very much. She loves him with a love that is without blemish. God speaks of being a Husband to Israel all through the Old Covenant. Jesus never called His Father “God,” but rather “Father.” He tells us to call NO man father, but only our Father in heaven. He calls Himself the Son and tells us that we are all siblings or “brethren.” He tells us that He is the Good Shepherd. Even David had that figured out when he said, “The LORD is MY Shepherd…”
Dear saints, don’t fear intimacy with God. He is not the great and fearful Oz who stands behind a curtain flicking levers and pulling ropes as He tries to portray an image that scares little people into submission. The curtain between us and our Father was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died for us on the cross. He even tears down the veil of separation between us as individuals as we abide in Him. In Christ there is no slave nor free man, no Jew nor Gentile, no male nor female, but a new Creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17 and 21) that abides intimately with the Father and the Son and with one another as well. You can’t do this in a crowd!
This is why the early church met in homes. Their homes were not like our 2000 square foot plus homes in America, but much smaller and many only had one room. Families were intimate, so it was not a fearful thing in the early church. We fear it because of our socially imposed distance, the big buildings we meet in, the isolated cars we travel in, fenced up yards that keep us isolated from our neighbors, the cubicles at work, and so on. If we get into an elevator, we all turn and face the door and no one dares to speak. Even in church we look straight forward at the lecturer and rarely venture a side long glance at “our neighbor” unless told to do so by the man up front. When the “service’ is over we scurry to grab our kids and get out to the car so we can beat the crowd out of the parking lot. It is all a lie. The crowd is a lie. This is NOT the church!
Jesus never said, “Where two or three hundred are gathered together, I will be there…,” but He did say, “If any man (not any church or any nation) will open up to me I will come into him and sup with him and he with me.” He did pray, “Father, that they might be one even as we are one, I in you and you in me that they might be one in us.” It is always about intimacy with the Lord. The intimacy that the Son has with the Father is to be ours with each other as we are ONE with one another. Then the world will know that the Father sent the Son to be a personal Savior with each person in His creation. Will we say, “Yes Jesus! I want that personal intimacy with you! I want to know you as the lover you have called me to be IN you. I want to know my fellow saints who want this same intimacy that is lived by the Father and the Son”? This should be our prayer and deepest heart’s desire if we are truly called and chosen by the Father.
Bless you all as you seek His wonderful face.