Intimacy with God is the source of your joy in life and your strength to do good work.
That’s why Paul gushed, “Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ” (Phil. 3:8 CEV).
He says this because Jesus makes intimacy with God possible. For instance in John 14 our Savior shows us that God is emotionally present to us as a loving Papa (vv. 6-7).
But how can you experience this? What does it look like to trust Jesus to minister his Papa’s love to you? That’s what Phillip asked (v. 8).
In reply Jesus taught 3 steps to greater intimacy with God:
- Believing Jesus’ words
“I am in Papa, and Papa is in me,” Jesus says (v. 10 paraphrased). To look at Jesus and his works of love in the Gospels is to see his Papa loving you personally (v. 11).
To believe Jesus’ words includes intelligent study and blossoms into heartfelt trust.
- Joining Jesus’ works of love
The test of our faith is if we do the kind of things that Jesus did in the gospels, like loving well, ministering healing, and making disciples to him (v. 12). We do this not with self-effort or strain, but by helping each other to participate with what our risen Lord is doing right now in our midst.
It’s when we talk with Jesus about the works of love that we’re doing together that we experience greater intimacy with God.
- Asking Jesus for what you need from God
Jesus promises us, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (vv. 13-14).
This is a step of being emotionally vulnerable in prayer and in community with other Christ-followers.
For instance, recently I practiced these three steps of intimacy with God.
In my morning meditation I was looking at the lake near my home and I imagined Jesus walking on the water to me, as he did to Peter and the disciples in the boat at sea (Mark 6:48).
I recalled Jesus’ words “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39) spoken during another storm at sea. I repeated this verse with deep breathing over and over. I trusted that these words were true for me.
Later that day as I engaged in a meeting, recorded two podcasts, connected with pastors, wrote this blog, and did other activities I did my work with Jesus. I resisting trying to make things happen in my own strength and instead I periodically paused to pray and kept seeking to act in the presence of Christ.
Then a storm of conflict blew into my life. It made me so anxious that I took three antacids! But then I remembered Jesus walking toward me on the stormy seas.
I asked a few people to pray for me and with one I shared in depth about what happened and how anxious I felt. This helped me put words to my underlying feelings of frustration, fear, and shame. And to go even deeper to the sadness about what I’d lost.
Being emotionally vulnerable helped me to trust Jesus and to receive comfort and strength from his Papa.
That in turn helped to pray for others effected by the conflict and to look to God to guide us through the storm.
Intimacy with God is like that. It’s not always sweet and affectionate — often it includes working through stress, confessing sin, and taking courage to follow Jesus into an unknown outcome that’s messy.
Listen to this week’s Soul Talks podcast: “Unhurried Time to Feel God’s Presence” Making time and space to simply be with Jesus is one of the ways we can experience true rest and refreshment. Even in the midst of the busyness and responsibilities of life, God invites us to slow down, be with Him and enjoy His Presence. In this conversation with special guest Rev. Dr. Erisa Mutabazi, Bill & Kristi share encouragement to help you find rest in God so you can be refreshed and renewed in your ministry and relationships.