This all seems as right as water flowing from the highest to the lowest point, but as is the case in our time, intimacy is difficult at best. In our culture, intimacy is most often associated with physical sexual activity. Given the our culture’s selfish redefinition and pursuit of sex, it is not hard to see why intimacy is difficult for us to understand.
To get to the heart of intimacy we must understand, that at its core, intimacy is the coupling or intertwining of two people in relationship, through mutual submission and pursuit. Intimacy is not to be animal impulse, but a thoughtful and intentional desire to please the object of your affection. When intimacy is done this way, it deepens the relationship. The marriage bed is a good example of this, but we must go deeper still, for the height of intimacy is not in the physical coupling of man and wife, but God in union with those He redeems.
In this account Jesus was approached by a young man of the ruling class. He asked Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus advises him to follow the commands of God, mentioning several of the ten commandments. The young man declares himself to be blameless in those commandments. Mark’s account records that after the young man made his profession, Jesus loved him. How did Jesus love him? He loved Him by telling him to do the most foolish thing ever imagined for a rich person “One thing you lack: sell whatever you have, give it to the poor and come follow me”. Jesus was declaring give up everything that makes you what you are (his wealth and the prestige, power and freedom it gave him) and become poor like me, suffering the same deprivations.
If the young man loved Jesus, as Jesus loved Him, that would have been no problem. We must ask ourselves, if it is a problem for us? Have we forsaken all that we are, all that we have, all that we could possess for love of Jesus? Although this may seem strange to the religious American mind, it is the true nature of intimacy and the only way to find relational oneness with Christ (Luke 14:33).
Let us consider Paul when confronted by the living Savior on Damascus road, where in an instant, he went from persecutor to bond-slave. Paul had all the rich young ruler had and more, before he met Jesus, yet Paul‘s foolishness for Christ led him to chuck everything he possessed, everything that made him what he had been.
Philippians 3:7-8 For what things were gain to me, these things I have counted as loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
Paul is expressing the truth that in order to have union with Christ in relationship, our actions that lead to further intimacy, are to let go of anything that makes grasping the knowledge of Christ impossible. Lets also remember this desire for “the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” is not the accumulation of doctrine or scriptural facts, but a knowledge of His person in deep relational intimacy.
Philippians 3:10-11 That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead.
The word for “know” in this passage is the same usage for when a man knows a woman in the scriptures carnally. Paul wanted deeper union with Christ than that of the one flesh union of marriage. Paul was willing to suffer for Christ, as long as in the suffering He encountered Jesus living, loving and persevering in resurrection power through Him. He knew the most profound and intimate action was to live in such a way for His Savior, that his own life would be exposed to what Jesus suffered. He also knew it would make him look foolish.
As we close this blog series, remember that intimacy with God must be seen in our willingness to dump out what we previously held as valuable, as a means of wooing the one who first wooed us. The world will think it is foolish and our flesh will object for sure, but as Jesus declared in Mark’s version of the rich young ruler, it is the only way to possess treasure in heaven.
Contrary to the modern cultural Christian view of treasure in heaven, as seen in golden streets, perfect bodies, and mansions on hilltops, true heavenly treasure is found in this one hope…
I John 3:2 Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed. we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
The underlined phrase is the treasure that we are seeking. In order to have that treasure we must empty our lives of what our old man holds most dear, in the way of influencing us. Don’t wait too long, for today our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.