Two Words: Often Musused – Desperately Needed
Since I know how we men think, I don’t know how to start this article other than to say I DARE YOU TO READ THIS ARTICLE. I am going to deal with two words that are for the most part misused and misunderstood. Those two words are “intimate” and “passionate.” I know for some of you, images are already jumping in your mind based on what you think those words mean. I want to focus our attention on how these two words should be applied to our relationship to God.
Many men confuse the word intimate to mean sex. In fact many men try to fill the intimacy void in their lives with a sexual relationship and when it doesn’t work, they assume it must be because they have the wrong partner and they try another sexual relationship with someone else. The truth is that sex or a physical relationship can never fill the need in our lives for an intimate relationship. Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary defines intimate as: “1. Marked by close association, acquaintance, or familiarity 2. Relating to or characteristic of one’s deepest nature.” This definition points us to the fact that an intimate relationship is characterized by a close association that reaches to the very core of who and what we are.
I think David does a fantastic job of describing the kind of intimate relationship God desires to have with us in Psalm 139. Verses 1 through 5 tell us “1) O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2) You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3) You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4) Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5) You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Clearly David understands that this intimate relationship with God involves God knowing us from the “inside out” rather than the “outside in.” God knows our outward life (verses 2&3) as well as our thought life (verses 3&4). David also recognizes that God has forgiven the sins of the past, can see the future, and has His hand on David in the present. What a great word picture of what God means by an intimate relationship with Him.
Lets get really honest with each other and admit that we have all had times in our life when we wanted to run or hide from God. David helps us to see how ridiculous this idea is in verses 7 through 12 when he says “7) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8) If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11) If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12) even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Guys, there is no where in this life or in eternity that we can escape the presence of Almighty God! If God is who He says He is (and I believe him to be), then we are always in His presence. While men are very skilled at compartmentalizing their lives, God has access to every compartment and He knows us just as David describes in this Psalm.
Verses 13 through 16 give us an indication of the depth to which God knows us. “13) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15) My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16) your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God knew us before our parents did. God knew us as we were formed in the womb and He is the architect of everything about us. He not only knew us before we were conceived but He knows the number of our days on earth before we begin our first day. Are you beginning to grasp how intimate God knows us and why He desires that we hunger for that same intimate relationship with Him?
In verses 17&18 David gives us an indication of how often God thinks of us. “17) How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18) Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” Remember when you fell in love? You just couldn’t seem to get that special someone off of your mind. Multiply that by infinity and that will give you an idea of how often God is thinking of you. In this intimate relationship with God, we are constantly on His mind and in His thoughts.
In verses 19 through 22, David gives us an indication of what our role should be in this intimate relationship with God. He says, “19) If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20) They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21) Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22) I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” When someone is cruel or hurtful to those we love and care about, most of us men react with anger and a desire to strike back at those who have committed the wrong. Be careful of jumping to the conclusion that David is taking matters into his own hands in this situation. David recognizes that it is up to God to deal with these evil people. When those around us are doing cruel and hurtful things towards God shouldn’t we react the same way as David did?
David closes this Psalm with statements that clearly say “I want to have an intimate relationship with you Lord.” David makes a request, “23) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24) See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We should be making this same request as we seek to develop an intimate relationship with God.
Our second word, “passionate” is equally misunderstood. Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary defines passionate as “1. Having or capable of intense feelings 2. Showing or expressing strong emotion.” While often categorized in the same misuse as “intimate”, passion is not defined in purely a sexual way. I want to emphasize that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not an emotional one but a spiritual one; I firmly believe that we need passion in developing that spiritual relationship. In Luke 9: 23 Jesus is describing what we must do to develop a passionate relationship, “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” To develop a passionate relationship with God we have to stop pursuing the world and start pursuing Jesus daily. The following scriptures are just a few examples of what it takes to have this passionate relationship:
- Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” To develop a passionate relationship with God we have to first remember what He did for us. It was because God first loved us that He created a way for us to reconcile our hearts with His. It is through this passionate relationship that we die to self and allow Christ to live in us. Are you passionate about the Christ who lives in you?
- John 14:23-24 “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” Clearly this passionate relationship requires us to become students of God’s Word. Jesus is stating that the Father is not making His teachings optional but it is essential to not only know, but obey these teachings in order to have the passionate relationship that He desires. Are you passionate about knowing and obeying God’s teachings?
- Roman 8: 18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” There is no doubt that there will be challenges and difficulties in developing and maintaining this passionate relationship. Paul is telling us that these challenges pale in comparison to the promises of eternity God has made to those who are faithful. Are you passionate about allowing God’s glory show in your life?
- Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. This path to a passionate relationship with God will be a physical, emotional and spiritual journey. We must give our heart, mind and soul to achieve the desired objective. We must surrender our will, totally and completely, for His will in our lives. Are you passionate about seeking God’s pleasing and perfect will for your life?
- Galatians 5:24-26 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” A passionate relationship with God requires us to surrender our sinful nature and live a life guided by the Spirit. We are now focused on the passions and desires of God’s heart rather than our own. Are you passionate about living by the Holy Spirit?
These scriptural examples give us an indication of what a passionate pursuit of an intimate relationship with God should consist of. I cannot over-emphasize the need for developing a passionate prayer life, a passionate hunger for God’s Word and a passionate pursuit of fellow Believers that can help you to develop and grow in your intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father. 2 Timothy 3: 16&17 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Prayerfully seek where God would have you study His Word, seek guidance from the Holy Spirit in understanding those scriptures so that you may be passionate in your pursuit of an intimate relationship with our Lord.