Word’s are Relevant when Used Right!!! #4

Thus far, in this blog series, we have looked into the relevancy of three words that are used quite often in modern Christianity. These words are Purpose, Program and Passion.
We have come to understand that our purpose is to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). This purpose, or our reason for being, is live out in our program, which is to make disciples though labor intensive penetration (Matthew 28:18-20; 5:13-16; II Corinthians 4:1-2). In order to live that purpose, as God intended, we must lived it out with proper energy coming from our passion for Christ alone and His glory. Our passion leads to intimate actions that display our pursuit for the person of Jesus Christ and His glory in our world.  

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.

Many times we hear statements from those smitten with another, like this… “I love them because they make me feel like this way“. Interestingly the person is reacting to the pursuit of the other, as seen through their actions. This would appear similar to this passage “We love God because He first loved us” (I John 4:19). The issue with intimacy with God, as it is in human relationship, is that intimate actions of love need to be responded to with intimate actions of love or the relationship can’t be deepened. Lets look at a scriptural example.
In Mark 14:3-9 and Luke 7:36-50 we read of the intimate actions of a very sinful woman . As our Lord and the disciples were eating dinner at a Pharisee’s house, in walks the woman, most believe to be Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Church tradition tells us that Mary was a woman of the night, and by all accounts, a tremendous sinner. As she walks in she falls at Jesus feet weeping, where she dumps out fragrant oil on His feet worth  six months wages. As she continues to weep, she washes the dirt off Jesus feet with very expensive oil and her salty tears.
As the account continues two detractors arise, one was the Pharisee that invited Jesus and and unknown person. The Pharisee, was incredulous that Jesus would let such a sinful woman touch Him at all. what the Pharisee did not know is that Jesus had already set this woman free, by casting out the demons ,where He had expressed His love for her in that action of love. Now she was deepening the relationship with a radical display of intimacy. Jesus delineates this as He speaks to the Pharisee “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many are forgiven, for she loved much”. This woman had obviously repented, or she would never have come into Jesus presence. She came to display thanksgiving and love. 
This should press our own hearts, very much. We profess often our love and thanks for Jesus cross and resurrection, yet intimate love is expressed most accurately in passionate actions more than bold proclamations (Matthew 7:21-23). Are we mere professors of our love for Him or actually intimately loving Jesus through a passionate pursuit of His presence and absolute surrender to His will? The latter can appear to be quite foolish.
Let’s explore this a bit further, with the second detractors’ statement, about the ridiculous nature of what she did. The bible records the ointment could have sold for 300 denarai which is equivalent to 6 months worth of wages. In our times and nation, where the median income in the U.S. is about $51,000, she dumped out the equivalent of $25, 500, in a span of a few moments. To the religious, that was a waste, to her it was not nearly enough to express her love for Jesus. Her attempt to be intimate with Jesus marked her as a fool, yet to be coupled with Christ, growing in intimacy, This kind of foolishness (from a worldly perspective) is required. Behold the rich young ruler as recorded in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-27, and Luke 18:18-23.

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.

About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
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