Midweek Fellowship – August 3, 2016
“Intimacy with God - Part II”
Fr. Roberto M. Jorvina
The message of intimacy with God is very important in this day and time. We are doing our best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to try to plant this desire in us, to constantly push us to this very, very important aspect of our Christianity. It is the foundation of all our lives.
Intimacy is defined as the state of having a very close relationship. It is also a very personal, private association marked by a very close association and friendship. I emphasize the words relationship, association, and friendship. It may seem very intimidating especially today. We get intimidated with being close to someone. We always define it with sexuality; and yet, God has created us for intimacy.
The whole essence of a covenant with God is about intimate relationships. To become intimate with God is to gain the means, the way for us to constantly manifest the image and likeness of God within us. If we say that if we are made in the image of God, and we are like Him, then, we must make it work and we can make it work for us when we become intimate with Him.
We saw how Moses’ face shone, spending 40 days and nights on the mountain with God – the God Who is the Light of the world; Who is the God of life. He could not help but reflect the glory and the light of God. The disciples of Jesus were called by Him – first to be with Him, to spend time with Him, to fellowship and to commune with Him. They were recognized in Acts as men who have been with Jesus because they began to act and to react like Jesus, to speak like Jesus, to think like Jesus, and to look like Jesus. This is why they were called Christians, which means they are the little Christ.
Spending time with God makes a difference in our lives. We learn to appreciate Him, to commune with Him – His life for ours, that our lives may be His. We begin to acquire a manner of life that directly comes from God.
Remember this equation: the success of our life = degree of our intimacy with God. Success is not about our accomplishments in life, but in the level and in the standard of God. One can have so many accomplishments in life, but be unsuccessful in the eyes of God and not be able to reach the full potential that God wants him to have.
Hearing God is innate in each believer. We have been given, in the New Creation, that ability to know and to recognize the voice of God. I shared with you the story of the blind skiers who could maneuver in the most treacherous pathways by being trained to listen to their guide. We are trained to listen to God in the places not known to us; and in the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil because He is with us.
Developing intimacy with God is the ability to have a listening or hearing ear, just like anything that we have been blessed with. It can only happen if we see it as a VITAL, NECESSARY, and IMPORTANT aspect of our lives. Anything vital, necessary and important will be given our priority.
Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:…That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the [a]beauty of the Lord And to [b]meditate in His temple.” Here is David, a man after God’s own heart, a man who wrote about half of the book of Psalms. He asks, but he does not stop asking; he seeks for what he asks for. He makes the effort and perhaps, if we can add, he will knock if it takes that. He understands where his life will find meaning and purpose. He knows the source of strength he needs to face each day.
Do you think that the victory over Goliath just happened? No, it was a result of his asking the Lord, and then he sought Him. Many times, we ask something, but do we seek it? Do we really make the effort? “Lord, make me rich,” but do we work? “Lord, make me pass the exam,” but do we study? “Lord, let me settle my feud with my friend,” but did we approach him to ask forgiveness? What do we ask for? Are we seeking it?
Intimacy with God must be approached as something vital for us. Something vital means intimacy must be seen as something necessary to live the kind and quality of life that we have chosen to live. This implies that we must first choose the quality of the God-kind-of life. This kind of life is sustained by giving intimacy with Him as a necessary component of this life.
There are two things that we must do for this vital thing to happen: one, we must have a conviction that intimacy is important. Two, we must have the staunch, firm, unwavering determination to persist, persevere in this lifestyle. Whatever we consider vital and necessary, we will give importance, attention, and time to it. Why do people become super anxious if they leave the house without their cell phones? They will stop whatever they are doing and make the time and effort to go back just to retrieve it. Why? Because for them, it is vital, and a day in their life will not be able to proceed without it. Why do young people become uneasy or even overly concerned if they are not accepted by their peers? This is because social acceptance is a young person’s longing and security. Older people would not see it as such, but young people see it as vital to them. Why do men and women become apprehensive when they have no college degree? Why do we spend time and money to enroll or to enter a certain university? This is because education for many is vital and necessary. We will make time and effort for anything we see as important.
Let us translate the examples shared and translate this attitude, this mindset or view of life to our intimacy with God. We will see that we cannot survive a day without spending that time with Him. It all begins with our mind and inner resolve. Why do people in a crisis turn to God? It is because in their desperation for survival and to handle something beyond their ability, they will attach themselves to the Divine Being for hope, safety, and security. How about you and me? Are we desperate for God and our intimacy with Him?
Let us picture this man: his hair is disheveled from years of suffering. His shriveled figure lay under the beating heat of the sun, sprawled beside a pool called Bethesda. Passers-by walk by him, along with many other men who belong to the least, the lost, and the lonely of society – the lame, the deaf, lepers, blind. There was news that once in a while, an angel would come and stir up the water of the pool so the desperate for something to happen gather around it, hoping to submerge into the pool. Was the man desperate enough to even try to get close to the pool? After all, he seemed to have been satisfied all through the 38 years of his condition. Perhaps the desire within him was not there anymore. Perhaps for him, healing and a healthy physique was no longer vital and necessary. The dream was lost; the hope was gone. Perhaps, he was already resigned and content with the life of an invalid.
Picking up the story from John 5:1-6, “Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’”
What kind of question was that? It almost sounded like mockery. Here was a man, destitute and hurting for 38 years of his life, and this stranger had the nerve to ask that question, “Do you want to get well?” The crippled man was unable to respond, unaware what to say. He may have thought, “Who is this man standing before him? Is He mocking me?” “Hoy, lumpo, gusto mo bang gumaling? Gusto mo bang makalakad, makapag-inat?”
Yet this was no ordinary man asking. Jesus was no ordinary stranger. There was no hint of mockery here. The Man was full of compassion, full of kindness, full of the love of God Incarnate. And as the Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings, he was trying to probe for something, which we may not immediately see. Jesus was calling out desire and desperation again. Jesus wanted to bring out from him the desire to get well and have a change of life. “Is walking again vital and necessary for you? Do you see this as a priority of your life?” We may ask why the squatters are able to put up with their situation. It maybe because their desire for changed life has died down because of hopelessness and despair.
Jesus came to the scene to awaken the desire and say, “Wake up, desire! Seek the Lord that He may be found. Call upon Him while He is here. Let the wicked forsake his ways and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let them turn to the Lord, for He will have compassion and He will richly bless them.” Jesus was asking the crippled man, “Is walking vital for you, crippled man? Do you see this as a priority of your life?” A man, who for 38 years in this condition, can be so broken to the point of despair and hopelessness. He may have lost all desire to even see a change in his life.
God today is calling out to us, awakening the desire and desperation to long for His presence, to commune with Him. He is calling us under the shadow and the wings of the cherubim, to commune with Him. Christianity is not about rules and good behavior. It is not about morals and right conduct. These are all by-products, results, fruits of a deeper, weightier, and more profound essence of Christianity. Christianity, at its very core, is about desire, a desire to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Christianity is all about desire, not rules, and this is what God wants to awaken us to. It is about healing our brokenness which we have borne for many years, which makes us uncomfortable and uneasy when we talk about love and relationships, about forgiveness, when we get too close to each other, when we have to endure each other, when we have to forgive an offense, to suffer the pains of betrayal, of personality differences. How do we heal these? We have been broken for many years of our lives. We have been broken to a point that we can’t even see ourselves desiring to love all and be friends with all, except one person. We think it is hopeless to forgive. We have borne the burden of all these years, abused by a world and a society whose only goal is to bleed us dry with consumerism, material things and the unsatiated passion to satisfy self. The world wants us not to be satisfied that we would buy and buy some more; and we want to work, work, so that we can buy some more. It has killed the true desires of our hearts.
God calls us to commune with Him, to a life of true desire and intimacy. Here Jesus visits us in our most unexpected like He did to the disheveled and shriveled man, and He visits us at a startling moment like what He did to the Samaritan woman by the well of Jacob. In John 4: 7-11, “7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
Do we know the gift of God? The gift of coming into His presence with confidence by a new and living way which He made for us in Christ? Have we experienced that gift? The woman was already speaking to Jesus, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Creator of all things, including the water that she was drawing from, her breath, and the air that she breathes. Do you recognize the gift of God? But the Samaritan woman reacted like many of us would, “I do not know.” Jesus is God in the flesh. He will come in a little while and yet, not delay. Do we utterly desire His presence? The same Jesus who asked the man by the pool of Bethesda, the same Jesus who ask the woman in the well of Jacob, is the same Jesus who is asking you and me to come to Him.
Isaiah 55:1-2 says, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. 2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good and delight yourself in abundance.” Do we recognize the food of God? When we receive the Eucharist, do we have that passion and zeal that it gives us an awesome feeling that it is Christ? When we open the Bible, are we so excited to hear the message of God for us? Do we have the same excitement when we are looking forward to a message from somebody who is dear to us? Awaken this desire for God in us.
There are three things that we must do to develop intimacy with God: One, make a deliberate choice and effort to set your mind on God. Two, make a deliberate choice to exercise your mind in focusing on God. Set time regularly and pursue it. We would ask, “Lord, give me time.” Then, seek for that time. Third,cause the exercise of setting your mind into every area of your life. To develop any skill and to be FIT, we need to have Frequency, Intensity and Time. This is the same thing with developing intimacy with God. We need to do it every day. We need to be intense – with no distractions like a cellphone. We need to have time for God, not just thirty seconds for Him.
When we put intimacy with God as our priority, it will produce wonderful and amazing results in our lives. It starts with an inner resolve. I end with this Scripture in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Are we serious with God? Do we really desperately desire Him? Is it really something vital for our lives?