A candle-lit dinner with God.
A quiet sunset walk with Jesus.
Whispering your deepest thoughts and needs to the Holy Spirit.
Intimacy, in other words, over exhibitionism.
That is one of the messages Jesus emphasized throughout his ministry.
In a particularly instructive parable, Jesus contrasts the praying of a Pharisee, who stands up in the synagogue by himself—to stand out—and a tax collector standing, Jesus tells us, “far off.”
All who “exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted,” Jesus declares of those who use religion to heap praise and power to themselves.
The Pharisee wasn’t seeking an intimate encounter with God.
There was no conversation.
It was all monologue: “Look at me! How great I art!” He was engaged in self-glorification.
The tax collector, on the other hand, was quietly, intimately asking God for mercy.
There’s no doubt to whom God would have been able to get close to at that moment.
Nobody says I love you as if it were a stage performance unless it’s all an act.
The Pharisee was performing as if an Oscar were at stake.
The tax collector, on the other hand, was quietly off in the corner becoming intimate with God. And that is what God so desires from us: an intimate relationship.
Love is exchanged through intimacy.
Grace is freely given and received by candlelight at a table for two.
Just God and you.
Jesus makes this most clear in the Gospel of Matthew when he tells us not to be like the hypocrites who loudly pray on street corners and in synagogues. Instead, Jesus says, “when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you….”
What wonderful phrasing:
Go into your inner room and shut your door.
Yes, that is where we say “I do” to God.
And where God says “I do, too” to us.
We all have our own inner room deep inside us. To get there, we find some quiet place to meditate and pray.
Jesus routinely went off, the New Testament tells us, “to a lonely place” when he prayed to God. There is no instance in the Bible of Jesus making a prayer spectacle of himself.
Jesus understood, and wants us to understand, that we can most honestly be ourselves with God—and so God can be most intimately there with us—when we are in some quiet corner together.
Not on stage.
But backstage, where no make-up is necessary.
No costume needed.
No scriptwriter required.
No director, no producer, and no studio audience.
Just us and God.
True love from true love, begotten, not made.
The Intimacy of True Love
A candle-lit dinner with God.
2 thoughts on “The Intimacy of True Love”
It reminds me of when I with a couple in pre-marital counselling, how I try to explain the meaning of marriage. As we read the part of the service that says marriage “signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church” (Book of Common Prayer 423) The intimacy God desires with us is akin to the intimacy between a happy and joyful married couple. It is such a strong love that it overflows from us, and from a couple, into the life of the world around them.