God is calling his people to intimacy. This is the message that’s been on my heart for about a month, and I know it’s not just for me. I’ve been working on this blog post for more than a week now, but I just kept tarrying, waiting for something more. It didn’t feel complete until I heard Dr. Helen Trowbridge speak at our church on Sunday. (More on Helen in a few.)
This urgency for intimacy started as I was following the Summer Bible Reading Plan. I was reading about Eli, the Old Testament priest.
1 Samuel 1:9 says:
“Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.”
I admit I don’t know too much about the functions of the high priest, and surely there is a level of understanding for this old man who had sons doing most of the priestly duties, but it struck me that he was sitting at the door, far from the inner sanctuary. He had access to the Holy of Holies, which represents the presence of God, yet he doesn’t avail himself of it.
How often is this my condition? Having constant access to the throne room of Almighty God, and yet I choose to sit at the door post, far from His presence. I may be legitimately working hard, taking care of my family, even serving in ministry. Or I may be distracted, entertained…. Spending time with Jesus is often the last thing on my mind.
1 Samuel 3:1b-2 says:
“And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place.”
Although Eli’s eye condition was a physical one, I believe it is indicative of his spiritual blindness. It’s no wonder the word of the Lord was rare in those days.
Don’t let that be me, Lord! Going to church Sunday after Sunday, and yet blind. Unaware of my sin, unchanged by your presence, unmoved. Deaf to what your Spirit is saying because I’ve grown familiar with your presence. Because I’ve taken your nearness for granted.
Friends, it’s time to press in to God!
Many of us work hard serving God and others, which is wonderful. But it’s not the main thing. We must know God.
Just look at Luke 10:17-20:
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
I love this Scripture. Whenever I find myself being proud of my “Christian accomplishments” it brings me back to reality and sets my priorities straight.
Christ is more interested in my relationship to Him
than he is in my works.
We have to be careful that our acts of devotion aren’t coming from any other place (obligation, pride, ambition, insecurity, people-pleasing, etc.).
The works should be an outflow of our relationship to God.
That’s what he’s reminding his disciples of in this passage. As Oswald Chambers puts it, “Jesus says, in effect, Don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me.”
“It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him,” he says.
Matthew 7:21-23 says:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Let us not make the mistake of thinking that because we are anointed or used by God that we are in right relationship with Him. (If you are reading Ruth through 2 Kings with me, there is no greater example of this than the life of King Saul.)
The word “knew” (ginosko) that Jesus uses in this passage doesn’t just mean to know intellectually. It has several other connotations. It’s used in Genesis 4:1 and elsewhere to mean sexual intimacy: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain…”
We must know God in an intimate way! This relationship requires honesty, nearness, vulnerability, nakedness.
Helen Trowbridge said on Sunday: “When you’re all in it’s about intimacy. What comes out of intimacy? Babies. When you’re all in you’re going to birth some babies because you have an intimacy with Him that will produce fruit in your life.”
There is an urgency for us to press in and know God. For our works to reverberate into eternity, they must be the fruit of intimacy with God.
If we slow down and listen, we will hear the heart of God. We will perceive how he pursues us with an everlasting love. Will you seek God with all your heart?