Do you struggle with intimacy? When you think of the word “intimacy” is a three-letter word the first and only thing that comes to your mind? God designed us to be intimate beings as our connection with others reflects His connection with us.
Intimacy is the concert of souls in communion with God as they connect within the context of God’s plan to achieve God’s purpose with each other. From the very beginning, God created man as an intimate being representative of Himself.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
Man separated and alone
“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone…’” (Gen. 2:18 ESV). According to Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, the core concept is that it was not good for man “to be separate and isolated.” God created man to associate with all the beasts of the field but he could only be intimate with those of his own essence. Some have taken this passage to justify relational dependency, giving credence to a Christian hybrid of enmeshment between husband and wife in place of intimacy. “I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18 ESV) does not translate into man becoming complete because of the marriage relationship, rather that through marital companionship God would spawn into being the human race.
Intimacy with God essential
Marital companionship is certainly a fit context for interpersonal intimacy, but it is not capable of producing personal completion, nor was it ever designed for such a task. Note what happened between man and women as they disconnected from a primary intimacy with God.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”Genesis 3:7–13 NIV
Intimacy without God
Here is a summary of the impact Adam and Eve instigated when seeking completion apart from God:
- Shame in response to exposure and vulnerability
- Compulsion to avoid being transparent
- Compulsion to hide from God
- Reverence for God changed into a fear of God
- Primary communion with God became a prime contempt for God
- Companionship was forfeited for control
- Adam compelled to blame Eve
- Eve compelled to rule over Adam
The abiding experience of intimacy was exchanged for a continuous effort to control intimacy, as intimacy now came to be seen as dangerous, something to be exploited and managed. The compulsion to connect was lost to a determination to govern through the dictates of selfish ambition.
Selfish ambition inhibits intimacy
Selfish ambition is the great enemy of intimacy. Most when considering the need for intimacy conceptualize it as getting for oneself something they do not have in order to make them more than they are. The anticipation of getting eclipses the notion of giving to another. Few people view the construct of intimacy as oneness experienced within a context of mutual sharing.
Selfish ambition undermines intimacy through the process of seeking one’s own interest at the expense of achieving relational connectedness. Selfish ambition also works to relieve the obligation to relational loyalties, while fostering independence from any real bond to the relationship. Relational independence is an unhealthy condition whereby self-centeredness is heightened sponsoring self-absorption as well as vain conceit. The ideal of giving to another has been replaced by the idea of gaining for oneself.
Intimacy with Christ produces completion
God created mankind to live within a divine matrix where all relationships would be mediated by a primary connection with Himself that would lord preeminently over all other relationships. Therefore all intimacy must work through a relational hierarchy whereby Jesus is the central focus. Intimacy with Christ meets all essential needs producing completion and balance within the soul setting into motion by means of homeostasis, a congruent condition within one’s soul, brain, and body. This way the entire individual is brought into balance through their spiritual condition. This is the very reason Solomon could make the link between one’s trust in God and their subsequent physical health.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all you ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.Proverbs 3:5–8 ESV
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.Proverbs 4:20–23 ESV
Intimacy with Christ addresses the issues of the heart validated by God’s love whereby the Christian’s identity is made complete. It is then established that we are lovable, significant, and secure. This God-centered identity leads to fulfillment in Jesus that tempers all our motives and predisposes all other relationships to a holy balance. Relational equilibrium between God and all else is made possible with Christ having created within our souls a proper perspective on the priority that should be given to relationships within our lives and the preeminence that needs to be given to God.
Intimacy based on identity in Christ
We are given wisdom and spiritual understanding by the Holy Spirit as we are brought to know God’s heart, mind, and will. The Spirit of God shows us how we are to live among people while finding Christ relevant to every area of our lives, as opposed to exploiting people, positions, and possessions. Jesus is made relevant to intimacy when we establish who and what we are based on our identity solidified in Christ’s truth, which in turn brings us to encounter oneness with Him.
- I reflect Christ’s intimacy with me when I …
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Excerpts from Marriages that Minister by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis. Available from your favorite book retailers including Amazon and Redemption Press. (As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.)
Read more about Marriages that Minister: A Portrait of Christ and His Bride.
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