And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:6-7 (ESV)
The Bible gives us a standing invitation to draw near to God, to love him with everything within us, to seek his face. The promise is that we will be rewarded for our diligent pursuit. If that be the case why do you and I know so many believers who have difficulty with intimacy with God, hearing his voice and walking in his ways?
There are many reasons, but I want to suggest two fundamental obstacles to intimacy with God.
1. Poor God-image
If my primary image of God is Righteous Judge, then instinctively I will be walking on eggshells wanting to be on the right side of “Your Honour”. If I see him mainly as Master of the Universe, then I will see myself essentially as his servant hoping I’m doing a good job. Neither of those images of God – true though they are – would woo my heart to draw close.
However, if my foundational image of God is as a Loving Father, then my heart would be drawn towards him like nothing else. If I were convinced that I was loved and accepted by God, even at my very worst, then I would be free to be honest and transparent with him.
My pastoral experience tells me that many believers don’t have this Father image in our core. This leads to vulnerability being a stretch for us, and vulnerability is a prerequisite for intimacy. We each need a revelation of the Father’s love for us personally.
Lord Jesus, show us the Father and we will be satisfied!
God came to the garden calling for Adam and Eve. Adam’s response was: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Ever since the Fall, shame, depicted by their nakedness, has been at humanity’s core. Shame points to our chest and says, “There is something fundamentally wrong with you!” Our instinctive response is to be afraid of punishment. And to hide our true selves. How many times have you heard someone say, “If you knew the real me you wouldn’t like me.” This is shame-based thinking.
The antidote to shame is openness and vulnerability.
The Gospel provides the motivation for vulnerability; it says that God knows everything about you including your hidden, shameful parts, and he still loves you. He demonstrates his all-embracing love by the Cross of Jesus – God at his most vulnerable. He has his arms wide open to you inviting you to an embrace of love that will make every ugly thing you despise about yourself vanish into the night! Come to his open arms and open your arms too. He has made you worthy of love!
Abba, keep winning our hearts with your beautiful, redeeming love & draw us continually deeper into more intimacy with You!