Friday, May 27, 2011

Intimacy with God, Is church the answer?

Shaun and I have a marriage that is thrilling, vibrant and full of life; it is attractive and admired by many. We have a sex life that Cosmo magazine dreams of, a romantic life that is fun and flirty, and we are best friends. How did this happen? How did our marriage become so incredible? Well the formula is quite simple... 
We spend one morning a week together.. and that's all! During that morning we invite a mutual friend over. This friend is a person who knows me very well and has a deep friendship with Shaun too. This friend talks to me all about the relationship he has with Shaun. Then our friend tells Shaun all about the relationship he has with me. Occasionally, while our friend speaks, Shaun and I glance at each other and smile. Sometimes we even make small talk and we laugh together when it feels right. It is a morning that we really treasure. For the rest of the week we do not see each other or speak to each other, in fact we rarely think of each other. But the one morning a week experiences carry us into an extremely passionate intimacy that is envied by most.
...So I hope that you see the absurdity in this scenario. That is not at all how Shaun and I really do our marriage, and if we did it would be laughable. Our marriage would end quickly if we took that approach, yet somehow we use that same hilarious method to approach God and we do not even stop to consider the craziness of it. We go to church on Sunday morning, listen to our pastor share his incites on relating to God, we sing some catchy songs, we pray, and we expect that to be enough. Often we are so used to this that we don't even realize there could be more for us. 
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
Does this mean go to church? Yes. But is it exclusive to that? If it were I would not be a Christian. Why? Well, though church is a mostly pleasant experience, it is not enough to silence my insecurities, or quiet my fear of making the wrong financial decisions, or hem in a marriage that is fraying. Church services alone will not mend broken hearts, or broken friendships, or broken homes. An eloquent sermon on Sunday morning is not what I need on a Wednesday when I am tired and hurting and looking for anything to numb the pain. It may be part of the experience of seeking God, but it was never intended to be the only way we go about it. That is vital for us to know because often we do not have that mentality and so we attend church half-heartedly and do not find the fulfillment we need. Eventually we disengage with God altogether because we long for something more and don’t feel that we can ever receive it. 
God designed us to receive His love and love Him in return. We were made for it. We feel the deficit when we don’t receive it, even if we don’t recognize what the feeling is. Life with God is supposed to be a living relationship with a living being, one that is likened to a friendship, a parent-child relationship, and even a marriage. All of these analogies convey deep intimacy. This kind of depth comes from quality time spent together and openness. It cannot be attained simply by attending church and listening to someone else’s account of their relationship with God. That would be like the crazy story I told in the beginning about my marriage- it could never work. 
So how do we seek God? Well, taking it back to the marriage analogy.. how do we seek out the ones we love? How do I seek Shaun? We make time for each other. I learn what he cares about. I learn what he is passionate about. What does he hate? I share myself with him too. We share our hearts and our minds. We are intentionally open and vulnerable, even when it is uncomfortable and scary. 
If we use this same approach with God we can be confident that it will result in a beautifully intimate relationship that is fulfilling, exciting and exactly what we are quietly longing for. May God give us the grace and the desire to pursue Him, In Jesus Name. 

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