. . .and other random thoughts on trust.
“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'”
In the home church and evangelical circles I inhabit I hear the phrase “intimacy with Christ” bantered about a lot. Folks yammer on and on about having intimacy with Christ. But I wonder what that really means.
To begin with, intimacy is a word that tends to rub me the wrong way because, like for many in this world, it has a sexual connotation. And I wonder does it really convey something closer than personal relationship, friend, constant companion or indwelling Presence? Does that phrase really mean something or is it just a convention of speech?
Anyway, I wonder if I have that so-called intimacy. Maybe there are millions who are much closer to Jesus than I am. If there are, that kind of makes me jealous. And if they are, how do I get to where they’re at in that relationship? Is there something they know or do, that I don’t? One of my life’s great anxieties (and motivators) is that there’s some vast secret that others have been let in on and I have not.
I certainly can’t speak for other people’s experience of the Divine. I do know that I have an almost constant awareness of Elohim (Father, Son and Spirit) around me and in my life—but especially when I choose to tune in that Presence. I felt that before I ever knew about the 17th Century Carmelite monk Brother Lawrence and his book about the practice of the presence of God.
And that sense of being immersed in SomeOne bigger and holier than me was there even when I wouldn’t have identified myself as a Christian—when for 23 years I was running from the beliefs I’d been brought up with and exploring other types of spirituality.
And I know I feel closer to Him when I think of Him as Jesus. Jesus is His name, Christ is his role or title. And over the past couple years I’ve started to refer to myself more as a Jesus-follower instead of a Christian. Jesus-follower is more specific and has a lot less baggage than the title Christian.
Also, I tend to feel Him more surely when I read the four Gospels—more so than some of Holy Scripture’s other books. After all, the Gospels are specifically about Him. There are those who write about finding Jesus in every book in the Bible. I’m not enough of an expert or scholar, but it seems a bit of a stretch.
Tho I kind of stumble on the term “intimacy” I had no problem with being a part of His Body when I first happened upon that paradigm in I Cor. 12 and Romans 12:5—even one of the less presentable parts. Paul’s concept of we believers all being united in the Body of Christ and working together made perfect sense—tho likely to nonbelievers it’s absolute nonsense.
I ran across a quote recently by some well-known name in theology and Christian circles to the effect that our knowledge of God is only to the extent that he allows us to know him. In other words, it’s strictly on His terms. To me, that statement had the ring of truth. I wish I had the exact quote and who said it, but I didn’t write it down at the time. It echoes another quote that I attribute to R.C. Sproul: “If you think you understand God, either you are or He isn’t.”
Though I pray daily for more insight into His nature, and my role in His economy, I’m fairly content not having ALL the answers. I accept my limitations—that the finite cannot appreciate or understand the infinite. Without getting in to all the messy details like say the 613 commandments in the Torah, Holy Scripture does tell me how I should live—and what the consequences are for my bad behavior.
I love the story from Exodus 33 of Moses demanding to be shown God’s “glory.” What passes in front of Moses is God’s obverse side, His goodness; God’s glory is His goodness—but Moses is never allowed to see God’s face. To my way of thinking God is saying “Trust Me, trust in My goodness, you don’t need to know all of the details.”