The phrase “Intimacy with God” falls awkwardly upon our modern ears. It shouldn’t because it reflects the perfect relationship Jesus won the right for us to have with God, and it is the profound relationship that He prayed for us to have, in John 17:20-23 (NAS):
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
I am fully motivated to post this blog because the pursuit of “Intimacy with God” is my greatest passion. I wrote a book about it. I heard a message about it on Saturday and another one on Sunday, and it is the subject of today’s devotion in My Utmost for His Highest. Someone’s going to a lot of effort to tell me (us) something.
Historically, achieving such an alignment with God is termed “perfection.” Those who dedicated their lives to the pursuit of oneness with God were like those who, today, make it their lifelong pursuit to the perfection of, say, a professional sport, or a musical instrument, or art.
The story is proverbial: After hearing the exquisite music of the finest violin player in the world, someone from the audience came up to him promising, “I would give my life to play the violin as well as you do!”
“I have,” was the abrupt reply.
Most of us are unwilling to do more than buy a ticket to sit in the bleachers or in the symphony hall, or to be weekend warriors. Few of us are willing to spend our entire lives to achieve perfection in anything. And yet, in terms of a perfectly pure relationship with God, that is exactly what Christ asks for us from the Father. It is why He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, empowering us to be more than what we naturally are.
Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He is one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be. — Oswald Chambers
So, how do we go from here to there? How do we take the next step toward “perfection?” For Jesus, the answer was simple, but His words seem to raise more questions than answers. Listen to Him:
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth….But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Mt 6:24, 33 (NAS)
As the Apostle Paul writes in Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
For world-class violinists one achieves “perfection” by correctly dragging a bow across some strings. That seems simple enough, but it takes a lifetime to learn how do it right. It’s the same with us. The words of Scripture are simple, but learning how to apply them correctly takes a lifetime. The difference is that the violinists never give up. They practice every day.
The good news … no, the great news, is that we have a leg up on the violinists. We have the Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and direct us. We just need to submit our hearts and minds to Him. That’s all we need to do … but we need to do it all the time. Never give up!
It’s a long obedience in the same direction. — Eugene Peterson
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Dr. Rob Oberto is the award-winning author of “Intimacy With God: Extraordinary miracles that opened a skeptic’s heart to God” available from Amazon.
©2017 Rob Oberto, All Rights Reserved.