what intimacy with God means

You’ve heard people talk about it. Perhaps it sounds a little weird, and at the same time something in your heart wonders if you’re missing something. Or perhaps you’ve felt that level of closeness with God for brief moments in the past, but feel a little disappointed that you don’t experience it more. It would help to understand what intimacy with God means.

For generations God’s children have experienced intimacy with Him. The Old Testament talks about numerous individuals who felt close enough with God to even “argue” with Him, heroes such as Moses, David, and Jeremiah. Then, because of Jesus coming to Earth, the New Testament assumes that we can “abide” in Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Church history is full of reports of those who have experienced intimacy with God, such as the early desert fathers, Madame Guyon, Teresa of Avila, Brother Lawrence, George Mueller, Rees Howells, and many others. Hymns and books have been written about it. I could name some current Christians who display it.

But what about you and me? What does intimacy with God look like? Is it only a feeling? What about when you don’t feel anything? Is there something you and I have to do to get this kind of intimacy with God? Is it only for “special” people?

This article, and the one to follow, can only present some basics, some initial steps for you to take on this journey. But won’t you come along?

God Desires Intimacy

First we must be convinced that God wants us to have intimacy with Him. That’s a rather astounding assertion, and one that is unique among the religions of the world. Only Christianity asserts that God Himself desires to be with His people.

God is self-sustaining and relational by nature. He doesn’t “need” humanity. He has relationship within Himself – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But that wasn’t enough for Him. He created humankind to extend and share that intimacy, that relational experience. The God of the universe, the Creator, walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden with no barriers between them. Complete intimacy both between Adam and Eve and between them and God Himself, without shame.

And God is determined to redeem and re-create that intimacy with His people. In the New Earth, “God himself will be with them.” (Revelation 21:3)

In the meantime, God gave humankind the gift of sex and marriage as a demonstration, an object lesson, of the intimacy He created us to have with Himself. (See Ephesians 5:32)

Is it any wonder the enemy has worked so hard to distort sex and sexuality, corrupting it with lust and shame, and using it to wound and destroy? Marriage and sex and intimacy – the three-fold object lesson God intended to be always connected – have become divided and distorted almost beyond recognition.

But God’s plan and desire for intimacy with us has not changed.

Intimacy is Not for Goosebumps

The more you learn about God, the more you realize that He cares about so much more than your feelings. Yes, He does want you to feel joy, to be satisfied and fulfilled. “In your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

But what He desires much more is your transformation.

What would it be like to not have to sin? What if you could actually be free from addiction? How much joy would you feel if you didn’t want to do wrong? Imagine the overwhelming relief of being able to say, as Jesus did, “the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.” (John 14:30)

That’s the kind of total healing, total freedom, total transformation that God desires for you and me. As far as our life on this Earth, that’s the goal of intimacy with Him.

And it’s also the result.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Being close to Him changes you. You cannot help but be changed when you are close to Him. Indeed, it’s the only way we can be changed. Trying harder simply doesn’t work.

And that kind of transformation makes possible the eternal intimacy with God that He created us for originally.

Intimacy Demands Relationship

Most of us human beings have a limited if any understanding of true intimacy. And yet we seek it. We settle for the momentary pleasures of power, sexual gratification, entertainment, accomplishment, or other little addictions to distract us from the ache of an empty and lonely soul. Yet we cannot completely dismiss the drive and the need for connection, understanding, and fulfillment that true intimacy promises.

To whatever degree we do experience intimacy here and now, it comes through relationship. The existence of even a few healthy long-term marriages shows us that it can be done. Friendships that last through thick and thin demonstrate the same. We see examples and stories of people who seem to enjoy intimacy with another and wonder if they have some special gene that we never got.

And the same goes for the examples of a few who exude relationship with God.

This has nothing to do with religiousness, or a holier-than-thou display of checklist-based righteousness. This is about those who we can look at today and say, as people did of Peter and John, “These have been with Jesus!” (See Acts 4:13)

If some experience this kind of intimacy with God, why not you and me?

Next time I’ll talk about some important things you and I can do in getting there.

Your Turn: What does intimacy mean to you? Do you believe you can experience intimacy with God? What do you see as the biggest barrier to experiencing such intimacy? Leave a comment below.

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  • Intimacy with God can seem illusive, mysterious, difficult. But others have experienced it. Why not you? This is about the kind of intimacy that leads others to say, “This person has been with Jesus!”  Tweet that.

Can’t Talk to Anyone?

We were created for intimacy. Feeling lonely is a natural result when you don’t have intimacy. So what DO you do when you feel you can’t talk to anyone?

Get our free download When You Can’t Talk to Anyone (Even at Church). And you’ll get some follow-up suggested steps you can take next.