This week at #TheLoft we are talking about “Intimacy with Jesus” which can include, but is not limited to: what intimacy with Christ looks like to us, how we abide in Him, and what are the barriers that we face or the victories we have discovered in maintaining intimacy with Jesus. This is a time of encouragement with one another, so grab a coffee, put your feet up and join us – The Loft is open, so come on up!
What is being ‘intimate’ with Jesus?
It must sound strange to someone that does not know much about being a follower of Jesus – to be intimate with him. Intimacy means to ‘be closely acquainted or familiar’, it is ‘private and personal’, an ‘intimate friend’ (noun). Jesus calls us his friends in Scripture which is truly wonderful and makes Christ truly different from other religions and ideas about God – have a look at what he says for yourselves:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:13-15
The Lord considers us His friends – He laid down His life to save each one of of us. That is a pretty incredible friend. However, we become Christ’s friends if we obey his commands. The Lord says that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15). By sending His Son as a ransom for our sins and restoring our broken relationship with Him so that we may come into His presence without spot or blemish, we are made new by the blood of Jesus. Our response to what God has done for us, is to simply obey His commands, which demonstrates our love to Him. We often fall short of this, but God’s grace and love for us is like a parent to their child; He may have to discipline us in some way if we disobey, but He would be a pretty poor parent if He didn’t exert discipline – we would be looking to our own interests, our selfishness and our own ideals, rather than looking at what our parent, or God, knows is for our greater good.
What Does Being Intimate With Jesus Look Like?
For me, being intimate with Jesus is spending time with Him in prayer, and it is a private and personal time. When Jesus went to speak to the Father, He would withdraw Himself from others and be alone to pray:
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23)
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
Jesus knew the importance of withdrawing from the crowds and His friends, to be alone with God, and in my life, I know the importance of spending solitary time praying to Him – talking to Him about my fears, worries, concerns, and praising Him with thanksgiving, joyful singing and sometimes dancing! Being intimate with God is wonderful and we can be creative and express this to Him with who we are, wherever we are and whenever we can. Whether through sport, dance, song, walking, resting, painting, writing, speaking, being silent…
Jesus wants us to come to Him just as we are to worship, pray and rest in Him – He will give us rest (Matthew 11:28)
Barriers To This Intimacy With Jesus
It is a daily battle to spend time with God in my life, and it shouldn’t be. If I am honest, I find it easier to spend half an hour on my Twitter news feed than half an hour in the arms of the Creator and Saviour of the World. I am more tempted to spend time writing about how amazing God is, than spend time conversing and listening with Him. It is easier to pick up a newspaper and become distressed at the struggles of humanity on every page, than to grab the Living Word of God, open up its pages and instantly feel reassured and at peace beyond all measure.
With all of the distractions and things that I pile up to get in the way of this time with God, I find myself slowing wilting spiritually, like a flower in the darkness with no water. I crave the Living Water that Jesus gives to every believer who places their trust in Him.
Rivers of Living Water
“37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’””
Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit – a part of the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Spirit), all working together. Here is a bit more information about the Holy Spirit, for those that want to understand this a bit more:
The Holy Spirit wells up in me as I spend time reading the bible, praying, singing songs of praise, crying out to God in my distress. There are times when I struggle and I am honest before God, asking Him what on earth He is doing! If you read the Psalms, there are plenty of times when David calls out in his heartache to the Lord, but this results in praise and thankfulness.
I know that we have a very real enemy who would like us to be distracted, to stop us from praying, to ignore God, to stop reading the bible… But that is why we must wake up and realise that Jesus has the victory, and we need to live each day in this truth! We need to pray for God to strengthen us, to keep us praying and worshiping Him, despite opposition or distraction. We need to put on the armor of God to fight this very real battle.
Victory in Jesus
We have the victory in Jesus and we should start living like we have! We are victorious because Jesus has defeated sin, death and has made a way for all who believe in Him. But we are not immune to the battle – we are very much in the heat of it daily. That is why we must put on our armor before we step onto the battlefield. The battlefield of our minds. The battlefield of our home. The battlefield of our city and our country. The battlefield of our world – both physical and spiritual. God is with us, so who can be against us?
The Whole Armor of God
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and,as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance…” (Ephesians 6: 10-18)
I would love to end this post by sharing one of my favourite worship songs that I sing when I am alone – I have also sung it on the way back home from church… I really should just start rejoicing from the pavement a bit more! But this is a song that I can shout out or sing quietly, but God’s promises resound from it all. We need to be still and just be with Him.
I pray today that you may find some time to be quiet and seek Him, because He will not close the door on you. A friend – to eternity and beyond!