Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Search for Intimacy

This place I'm yearning for, or seeking, could best be described as a desire for intimacy with God. But what is intimacy in the biblical sense and is it possible to have intimacy with God?

The view coming out of the 18th century Enlightenment was that God was an absent clockmaker. He set the universe in motion and went about his own way. He was distant and not involved in our lives. Enlightenment-influenced theologies have started with humans, built a system of morality that suits us, and then tries to tailor God to fit our morality. This is not God-centered, but man-centered. It is hard to find true intimacy with an absent God. At best, we want God to meet us on our terms, and when He doesn't, we stop trying.

Extreme Calvinists believe that before time began, God predestined some to Heaven and others to Hell. Those who are destined for salvation cannot resist His irresistible grace and those destined for Hell have no ability to make it to Heaven regardless of how good they were or how many times they expressed their belief in Christ. The choice has already been made. This also rings of an absent-clockmaker who determined who was on His team and who wasn't.

To set the record straight, I believe that God is alive and well. He spoke creation into existence and is still involved in every aspect of it today. He is the Alpha and Omega, omnipotent and omnipresent. He has predestined that the way back into a relationship with Him would be through Jesus Christ's atonement for our sin on the Cross. Basically, our sin separates us from God and someone has to pay the price. Sin must be punished. God's justice is at war with His grace. His solution was for Jesus to take our sins upon himself. Jesus, in essence, took the bullet for us. Since God is omniscient, He ultimately knows who will choose salvation and who won't. While His desire is for all to be with Him in Heaven, ultimately we get to make that choice.

All this to say that if God is distant, intimacy cannot be found. It would be nothing more than a feeling at best, a psychosis at worst.

Again, I believe the evidence best supports that God is alive and well. He is active and wants to be a part of each of our lives. He wants to have a personal relationship based on mutual love. But, and this is a huge but, it must be on His terms. He is God, we are not.

I'm the father of a 5 year old. Timmy tries to meet me as an equal. While I enter his level at times, ultimately, I am in charge. My decisions override his when his are not in his best interest, or against my desires. I am older, wiser and more mature. I see cause and effect that he cannot see. My love for him precludes me from letting him harm himself. But I also know that he needs to grow up and learn. I will allow him just enough rope to hopefully learn right from wrong. I rejoice when he makes a right decision and hurt when he doesn't. God is much like this, only much wiser.

Just as Timmy can't comprehend my love for him, I cannot truly comprehend God's love for me. I didn't understand how much my dad loves me until I had a son. It blew me away. My greatest desire for Timmy is that he continues to love me, to do what is right and be my best friend. I can't force it, but I can be there for him and woo him. Could this be how God views me?

Anyway, it's getting late.

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