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Intimacy Part I

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Intimacy, Part I’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 11/2/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:

Intimacy with God

A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. – Ps 63:1-7

We need intimacy with God. Without it, we become dry and barren. Without intimacy, we become parched with a thirst that only God Himself can satisfy. The Psalmist gives us some clues as to how to attain intimacy: seek God early (pray before your day gets too busy), look for Him in the sanctuary (i.e. go to church) and give your all in worship (lift up your hands!).

Before we spend too much time talking about intimacy, I want to define it. Authentic intimacy is finding comfort in spending time with someone. Note that this definition implies it’s necessary to take a step beyond simply avoiding discomfort with someone; we must proactively seek someone out for comfort if authentic intimacy is to be attained.

The definition of authentic intimacy also implies that there is such a thing as counterfeit intimacy. There is. I will devote time to that concept at the conclusion.

Respecting Our Design

We all crave intimacy with God. We were designed to receive stimulus from Him. Some of us do it better than others, but there is always a genuine desire in our lives – whether we know it or not – that can only be satisfied with God Himself. Many of us seek other things in life to try and fill a hole and a void that can only be filled by more of God, but to no avail.

I’ve spent periods in my life trying to avoid God. In fact, when I first gave my life to Christ, I was so good at avoiding God that intimacy was next to impossible. I remember a time when I couldn’t pray for more than 5 minutes at a time. I had to force myself to spend time in prayer by setting my kitchen timer, and refusing to get up off the floor until it went off. At first I could only take 5 minutes; then I made my way up to 10. After 15 came 20, and from 20 I stretched it to 30. Eventually, I found myself in a healthy place where I was able to spend hours in God’s presence. But that didn’t come easily.

We need intimacy with God; and we know this because even Jesus Christ Himself needed intimacy with God.


Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. – John 5:19-20

Where did Jesus’ miracle-working power come from? Intimacy with God. Jesus was comfortable in His passionate love for God, as well as God’s infinite love for Him; and from that place of intimacy came miracle-working power the world had never before seen! So, if even Jesus Christ – Lord of Lords – had to rely on intimacy to work miracles, how much more so do we!

Whenever Jesus needed strength, He relied on intimacy with God:

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. Luke 22:41-43

Jesus was in a time of absolute need at the Garden of Gethsemane. For our sake, He would be separated from His father’s love for the first time in eternity; so He knelt down and pursued intimacy with His Father.

We are made in His image. Our goal should be to become as similar to Him as we possibly can. But in order to know what we’re becoming (our ideal character) we need to know who He is!

Let’s be honest. We’re all a little afraid of intimacy, aren’t we? I’m especially talking to the gentlemen here. Intimacy can be a four-letter word to men. We don’t like to be called intimate because it means we’re soft. It means we’re girly: unmanly, and maybe even lady-like. We might as well put on perfume. But I want to submit something to you: avoiding intimacy does not make you masculine. In fact, it is the courage to embrace intimacy that defines masculinity.

Intimacy means God gets to see all of us: the good, the bad and the ugly. Letting our guard down in such a way can be a very scary experience. But it’s something we must do if we are to step into the calling God puts on our lives.

Return to Sender

The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy (Jn 10:10). Satan can be crafty, but his strategies are often the same. One of the biggest blocks to intimacy with God is allowing Satan to convince us that God has no interest in intimacy with us. As Christians, we have to muster the strength to fight that lie from the pit of hell with everything we’ve got.

Do you look forward to your prayer time with God, or do you think of prayer as a test? Do you imagine God standing up in heaven with a clipboard, taking notes on all the inappropriate things you ask for? Do you assume He’s going to throw out all your requests because you’re not perfect, and you don’t deserve to see your prayers answered? After all, who is God to take notice of you, right?

Wrong. Jesus Christ died once for all sins (1 Pet 3:18). We get to enjoy intimacy with God because of everything Jesus has done for us; not because of anything we’ve done for Him. There are no right and wrong things to say to God. He’s not waiting up in heaven to hurl a lightning bolt down at you when you ask for the wrong thing. Sure, there are appropriate and inappropriate requests to make. But nothing you say in prayer will disqualify you from God’s love. God wants your whole heart: the good, the bad and the ugly.

God Desires Intimacy With You

God doesn’t just love you; He actually likes you too! He genuinely desires intimacy with you. In fact, that’s the reason you and I were created. God designed man and put him in the Garden of Eden to enjoy his company: to walk with him in the garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8). Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?

Satan’s primary goal is to convince us that God does not desire relationship with us. And our counter to his lie is going straight to the source, and seeing what God says about us. So let’s take a look:

1) You have ravished His heart!

You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse! How much better than wine is your love, and the scent of your perfumes than all spices! – Song 4:9-10

Song of Solomon details Solomon’s expression of love for the Shulamite woman: his bride. However, this book really is an allegory that explains the way God feels about you! Think hard about that. The God of the universe is telling you that you have ravished His heart. When you look at him – just one look! – He is completely undone.

My wife and I have a newborn son. Not a day goes by when she doesn’t look at him, overwhelmed with affection, and admit: “I love you so much I can’t take it!” We chalk this off as the love a mother can only have for her son. But in reality it’s also the love that only God can have for us: an unconditional, eternal and passionate love!

2) You are the apple of His eye!

I’m sure you’ve heard a romantic man call a woman the apple of his eye. Shakespeare made the phrase “apple of my eye” popular in his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The pet-name is meant to convey the undying affection of a lover who has no interest in anyone other than his beloved. But do you know how the phrase actually originated? God used it. And he was talking about you:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies who surround me. – Ps 17:8-9

3) God married you; and He did it by choice!

“Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” – Jer 3:14

God promises to marry us and carry us over the threshold and into the promised land! How much more intimate can we get?

Attaining Intimacy

We all need intimacy. We all want intimacy. So how do we get it?

Far too often, we pursue substitutes for authentic intimacy. Simon (Acts 8) tried to buy intimacy with God after seeing Philip perform signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. It didn’t work, and he was rebuked. Many times, we think that if we can just make it to one, big, Spirit-filled conference, our whole relationship with God will change. But that’s a substitute that won’t work either.

Counterfeit intimacy takes two primary forms. First, we can – either knowingly or unknowingly – rely on another person to maintain our relationship with God for us. Sometimes it’s a family member, and sometimes it’s a best friend. Sometimes it’s even our pastor! Whenever we won’t put in the effort to maintain intimacy and rely on someone else to do it for us, it’s no longer authentic. It becomes counterfeit.

Second, we can rely on an outside place or circumstance to maintain intimacy with God. Do you only hear God when you’re in church? That’s a good start, but that’s not enough. Can you hear Him at your desk at work, in the midst of the noise of daily life? We should be able to experience intimacy with God in any place, and at any time. He is omnipresent (everywhere!). We should never treat Him as anything less.

None of the substitutes for intimacy work. The Pharisees could tell the disciples had been with Jesus. They could see it on their faces; and I believe the people around us should still be able to see it on ours. That’s not meant to bring condemnation or call anyone out for not maintaining authentic intimacy. It is, however, meant to save time for those of us who are new to faith and wondering how to achieve authentic intimacy with God.

There are Christians who come to church some Sundays wearing a mask. Faking church. Anyone can claim to spend ample time with God; but few actually do it. Moses picked an alternative to wearing a mask; he enjoyed God’s presence directly, and his face shone as a result! When you shine from a place of intimacy, people will know where you’ve been; and they’ll want to join you next time you go!

The solution is simple. I believe God is calling the church back to basics: spending time with God in prayer, and dwelling on the simple beauty of the Cross. For me, intimacy looks like lying on my back and spending hours in prayer. For you, it might look like something slightly different. Whatever it looks like, it must be done.

There is no substitute for time spent with God.

I know we’re all busy. Our to-do lists grow every day, and life never gets less cluttered. But I want to propose something to you. That day you’re waiting for, when your to-do list will miraculously disappear, is never going to come. You’ll never just wake up one day and have nothing to do. Time spent with God is a choice. Your time with Him is going to have to come from somewhere; it’s going to require time taken away from something else. But it will be the best choice you’ve ever made .

– by Pastor Michael White

© Michael D. White, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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