Being Intimate With God In The Midst Of Christian Service

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          Intimacy is one of the most misunderstood words in use today. Many times when folks think of the work, they immediately think that an individual is talking about the sexual relationship between two individuals, typically between husband and wife.[1] However, there are actually three distinct types of biblical intimacy that an individual can have, which are: Intimacy with God, Intimacy with others, and Intimacy with a spouse.[2] Typically, the type of intimacy that is talked about the most is the one that is of a sexual nature. However, this type of intimacy typically becomes a problem for those in the ministry when the minister stops nurturing the intimate relationship that he or she has with God. This then will lead to a loss of intimacy that the minister has in the context of community and or lead the individual in a strained intimacy with his or her spouse.[3]

Intimacy is a relationship “of a very personal or private nature” and it is easy to understand that when one hears of the word their mind is immediately drawn to the sexual connotation it tends to represent.[4] Of course, the very nature of the sexual relationship conjures up the idea of commitment, closeness, and unashamed actions of trust. With this in mind, it is easy to understand how this could only be seen in the relationship that is sexual in nature and is between a husband and wife. However, to be intimate with someone does not mean that you are necessarily sexually involved with him or her. To be intimate is simply “any relationship where we know another fully and we are fully known.”[5] That is why one of the most important intimate relationships a person can ever have is the one that they have with the Lord.

 

The Lord not only wants to have an intimate relationship with man, he also made man to have an intimate relationship with Himself as well. Back in the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 2:18, the Lord said that is was “not good that the man should be alone.” Of course, this verse is referring to the creation of Eve and the pronouncement of God’s blessing on marriage, but it also teaches a universal principle in God’s creation of man, which is namely that God made man to be a relational being.[6] God did not make man to be isolated and on his own. That is why it is of some importance that those that are in the ministry develop a deep intimate relationship with the Lord as they minister and in their community of faith. Also, it is of the upmost importance that the minister keeps a right relationship with God, because if not, all other relationships of intimacy with crumble and become corrupt.

 

holdinghands          It has been said that, “The most miserable people in the world are Christian leaders whose intimacy with God has grown cold.”[7] This is probably why over fifteen hundred pastors permanently leave the ministry every month and over fifty percent of pastors would leave the ministry if they had some other form of income.[8] Could it be that these ministers have just lost their intimate relationship with God? Paul said in Romans 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (KJV).” Paul uses an interesting word in this verse to describe the believer’s relationship with God; that word is “Abba.” Abba was father in Syrian language. So why did Paul say that the believer cries, “Father, Father?” Well, Matthew Henry said that, “It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but Father, Father.”[9] The relationship that a parent has with his or her child is one of intimacy and Paul used this illustration to highlight the intimate relationship that every believer has with the Lord. And this truth should be especially known and felt by those that labor in full time Christian work.

 



[1] Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann. Preventing Ministry Failure: A ShepherdCare Guide for Pastors, Ministers and Other Caregivers. (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2007.), 26.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid. 27

[4] Ibid. 34.

[5] Ibid. 35.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid. 41.

[8] Dave Earley. “Intimacy with God and Others.” http://bb7.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=/webapps/blackboard/execute/launcher?type=Course&id=_1942991_ (accessed March 20, 2013).

[9] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the New Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1983.),

 

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