Thursday, August 20, 2009

Intimacy with God

I'm reading a book called Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It's about finding intimacy with God in the busyness of life. It's a really good book and well written. I find myself not wanting to put it down. Here is a passage from the book that I really like and wanted to share:

Intimacy with God. What does it mean to you-and how do you achieve it? Does it require sitting on a pillar like Simeon or being buried up to your neck in sand? (doesn't make sense if you haven't read the previous pages in the book) Is it some mystical level of consciousness attainable only by the deeply devout?

Some religions say that it is. According to Hinduism, a religion based on the karma of good works, one lifetime isn't enough for the soul to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Hindu mathematicians calculate it takes 6.8 million rotations through reincarnation for the good and evil in us to finally balance out so that we can receive the ultimate spiritual level of nirvana.

In the Far East, during religious festivals, men often have hooks inserted under the skin of their backs. These hooks are then tied to wagonloads of rocks, which the men drag through the streets, hoping to obtain forgiveness for their sins. In certain areas of Mexico, the devout crawl miles on their knees in pilgrimage.

All over the World, people go to unimaginable lengths to find God-which is sad when you consider the unmaginable lengths God has already gone to find us.

We don't need millions of lifetimes in order to be pure enough to see God. We don't need to stick hooks in our back or tear the flesh off our knees in order to earn God's favor.

All we really need is Jesus. For he is all the evidence we need. The Father actually wants us close and is willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure it happens.

It's hard to imagine the Creator of the universe wanting to know us. We feel so unworthy. That's why many of us persist in thinking that we must earn our way to heaven, that only the superspiritual can really know God. Burdened with the weight of our own spirituality, we struggle beneath a load of self-imposed obligations: "I have to do this..." or "I can't really know God until I do that..." We can spend so much of our lives getting ready to know God or backing away out of fear of displeasing God that we never get around to enjoying the intimacy that Jesus came to provide.

And yet intimacy with God was indeed the very point of Jesus' coming and of his dying. "You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ," Paul writes in Ephesians 2:13. For when Jesus died, his cross bridged the great chasm of sin that separated us from God. With his last breath, Jesus blew aside the curtain that had kept sinful humans from touching a holy God. New we could come into God's very presence, clean and approved, not by our works, but by his grace. Jesus "destroyed the barier, the diving wall of hostility" (verse 14) that had separated humanity from God.

When we couldn't reach up to heaven, heaven come down to us and welcomed us into intimacy through the doorway of Jesus Christ.

That is the good news of the gospel.

The way has been made. The price has been paid. All we need to do it come.

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