Hearing about Jesus as Lord as an unbeliever can feel like whiplash on the brain. The information is so powerful at first that it’s almost numbing. But gradually the words fall into place, one word of epoch-making truth after another. Eventually, the process of knowing Jesus becomes a goal; we read the Word to learn about Jesus, we pray to Jesus at church and worship Him, and all of that is great. But it’s not enough.
See, I want more.
Understanding the Jesus of the gospels is mesmerizing. The innumerability of the lessons of wisdom from Christ is inimitable. But Jesus didn’t come to preach; He came to bring salvation through transformation (spiritual rebirth). That’s why Jesus’s words pummeled through people’s cultural and religious ossifications and shined light on the abstruse. His very disciples could barely keep up with Him until after His resurrection because only then did many of His words become fulfilled prophesies. Like His disciples, we are still constantly perusing the Word, trying to understand and apply every ounce of pure wisdom we can explicate. But God didn’t come in the flesh of Jesus so that we could read books and nod our heads. He came for relationship. Does anyone know what that means?
After 22 years of misunderstanding faith, what’s come to hit me harder than simply the news that Jesus could in fact be Lord was how He wants to be known intimately by me. What does that mean? To me, that means vulnerability, openness, honesty, authenticity, compassion, empathy, humor, trust—a best friend, you might say; to know someone intimately, you become their best friend. Now, seven years of knowledge can teach anyone something significant. But what I’ve learned is that knowing isn’t enough. Knowledge is intellectual and only utilizes the brain, whereas intimacy digs much deeper than the brain, absorbing and requiring the intricacies of an open heart.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about intimacy, it is that it requires trust. Trusting another person is one thing, but trusting God is a challenge when we consider the magnitude of such a relationship. For instance, human beings do not claim to have created the universe because they didn’t create it—God did. What type of argument can we have about the more contemplative topics such as morality and purpose when we’re arguing with the Creator of these? Furthermore, how can we argue about the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule with the Creator of those? We’re arguing with a carpenter over how to make a wooden chair, the order of operations and the size and—what are we doing? When did our intelligence suddenly take precedence over God’s? Backing up to the point on trust—if we are aware of the ludicrousness of arguing over God’s creation with God, what we can gather is that if we cannot argue the carpentry of creation with the Carpenter Himself, can we not trust that the Source of such a beautiful creation would be trustworthy with that creation?
Here’s the thing: We are the culmination of creation—that is, God saved us for last—meaning, He created nature for humans. Do we question our Earthly dad when he builds us a treehouse so we can climb up and enjoy the gift of an independent room up high in the trees with a beautiful view and solace? Do we question God’s trustworthiness for creating something as tranquil as the sound of waves crashing on the beach, or the view of the sun setting into the ocean far off in the distance? Do we question God’s imagination when He gives us rainbows after a beautiful rainfall? Do we question God’s voice when we hear bird’s chirping or the softness of wind breezing by our ears—or His vision of pulchritude in the colorful patterns of a butterfly’s wings? Are these images of a reality thought up and built by God not mesmerizing and telling of His trustworthiness, and the intimacy He so deeply desires to share with us?
See, the Bible is phenomenal in that its words introduce us to a historical Truth that trumps all other truths: God loves us more than creation, so creation is therefore His gift for us to enjoy and to witness Him through until we see Him again—should we declare Jesus as Lord for His sacrifice in our place on the cross. The Word tells us how we came to be, and it explicitly tells us where God wants us to go. He clearly tells us we are not alone in this journey:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
He reminds us that He is our Rock even when our family isn’t:
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10)
Jesus encourages us with His continual presence:
“–and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Knowing about God tells us how to get started, but experiencing Jesus intimately takes us beyond the Bible. The Bible is our guide, our stepping stone of faith, and the very map for our soul. Our relationship with Jesus extends even beyond this text and into the mysteries and challenges of the moment where Jesus Himself promises to be. Outside the Bible, Jesus wants to spend time with us in worship, prayer, laughter, celebration, times of adversity and loss, and through victory and failure—just like a best friend would. But unlike most people, Jesus never tires of us. He’s never not in the mood to be around us or to hear our voices. He can’t get enough of us. He did, after all, create us. In the very stillness of His love and grace, Jesus prefers us over creation.
That is a picture of true intimacy. Can you be still, quiet with God, with Jesus? Can you let the quiet speak to you?
God gave us the Bible so we would know how we came to be and where He wants us to go. God didn’t provide us with the Bible to learn from during Bible studies so we could reserve intimacy with Him only during those times. The message of the Bible was not meant to be reduced to time only spent behind closed doors or with only a small group of people. The Bible regards all of history—the entire timeline of human race, the events of which extend even into the future; therefore, everyone needs to hear about it, whether they end up accepting its Truth or not. Ultimately, the Bible was not written for us to dismiss intimacy, on the contrary; God wrote the Bible so we could (of its many purposes) learn to build that intimacy with Him in our lives, here, now, today.
In 2017, we exist at a time when our relationship with Jesus will either define us or tear us apart from everyone and everything we know. Our world is coming to a time when what we believe in will separate us from each other, or join us together. Intimacy with God will be the number one way to notice those who spend time listening to His voice, who receive His blessings with thanksgiving, praise, trust, and worship; surrendering Earthly desires to make clear the path for His love to develop their character and spiritual maturity. When we surrender what we have in this life for His sake, He gives us what we need one-hundred fold (Mark 10:29).
To trust in God is to remember that He gave us everything we have because He is good, and because He cares. What He doesn’t give to us is what He knows we don’t need, even if we don’t have the eyes to see it yet. With a God so trustworthy and so intimate, there is no reason to keep God locked in the Bible. There is every reason to share Him, preach Him, talk about Him, invite Him in and embrace His presence. Let Him speak into you, and then look up into your world, recognizing the beauty of His love all around you, and thank Him for every breath in your lungs, for every time someone special tells you they love you, every time you receive an unexpected gift from a friend; every time a person acts out of selflessness, every time there is a rainbow or a rainfall—remember God speaks in so many ways, that to say “I haven’t heard God in a while” only bespeaks the quality and development of our listening skills. Try to develop those and be thankful for the little things, not just the obvious. Be thankful you’re able to swallow without choking, that you can smell the scent of candles, the salt of the ocean, the lilies of a garden or the perfume in a woman’s hair. These are gifts of God! Small as they may appear to be, they add up, and as they do they speak of God’s desire for us to experience His blessings all the time.
Christ is with us, always, if we would turn our faces to see Him and ask Him to mold us into more of the people He wants us to be. Ask Him to help you see the beauty that you have either come to neglect or which you were never aware of—ask Him to open your eyes, open your ears, and pay close attention to the delicacies of the moment around you. God speaks through everything; He also speaks into our heart with His very own voice. He speaks words into our hearts and etches His craving for us into our souls; we are never alone and we are always loved. We are not only known by Him, we are loved deeply, intimately, and eternally. What can you do to help build deeper intimacy with God today? In what areas can you ask for Jesus to speak more to you? In what ways would you ask God to help you see and hear Him act in your life so that you wouldn’t leave Him between the covers of the Bible? God is in you, now. If you can’t hear Him, quiet yourself, and ask Him to speak straight into you.
I’m so excited for you to know our Father God through Jesus! I’m so excited to think of so many people desiring Him beyond only text. He needs to be inside of us. Deep, deep inside where only a best friend could be.
May you be blessed this day!!