“Intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.”
This was my first, and probably the most important, point on a list I posted earlier in the week of a few things I’ve managed to learn on my journey of faith.
I believe in the truth of this statement with all of my heart. If I didn’t–I probably would have given up a long time ago. Because, well, my “performance” isn’t always all that great.
Before going further, it would probably be good to define what I mean by “intimacy with God.” What is it? Is it something to be desired?
The dictionary defines intimacy as: close familiarity or friendship; closeness. One catchy definition I’ve often heard is “in-to-me-see.” Intimacy is a place of vulnerability and authenticity. It’s a place where there are no pretenses; a place where you know and are fully known—without shame. In a very real sense, intimacy with God is a return to the freedom and innocence of the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve walked with God (and each other) “naked and unashamed.”
Sadly today we’re a long way from the freedom and innocence of Eden. Our senses are continually assaulted with a million and one disctractions luring us away from the beauty and simplicity of intimate fellowship with our Creator–the very thing we were created to know.
Yet His desire has never changed. He still yearns for intimate communion with His children. He still longs to walk with us in the cool of the day. Although He already “knows” everything about us, He wants us to invite Him into the deepest places of our hearts–just as He wants to share His own heart with us. He longs for the present tense experience of our presence– just as He wants us to experience His.
He longs for intimacy.
He longs for us to be with Him where He is. So He invites us to come boldly to His throne of grace. He invites us to abide in Him and He promises to abide in us. He invites us to come to Him–even in our weariness and brokenness–to find rest. He promises that nothing will separate us from His love …
Nothing. Ever. Not here, not in ages to come. Because not one of these promises is based upon our “performance.” Not one.
But wait a minute! Didn’t Jesus Himself say “If you love Me, keep My commandments”?
Yep, He did. But which commandments did He refer to? How obedient is obedient enough? How many commandments do we have to keep before we can run into His arms? The Ten Commandments? The 613 laws of Moses?
How good is good enough?
How many commandments do you have to keep to …
~Lean your head on His chest like John did?
~Wash His feet with your tears like Mary did?
~Pour out your heart to Him like David did?
~See His glory like Moses did?
~Be His friend like Abraham was?
Want my answer?
None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
When Jesus said if you love Me keep my commandments, He’d been talking to His disciples about faith–about doing greater things than Him and challenging them to believe–to ask for anything in His name.
Given that context, and the subsequent verses about sending the Holy Spirit, I tend think Jesus’ words were more of an invitation. This is my own personal (completely un-authorized) paraphrase of John 14:15 “If you love Me, you’ll learn to love like Me and you’ll do the things I do. ”
Remember that Jesus also said the greatest commandment was to love Him–and the second was to love others. He said all of the law was summarized in these two commandments. So from Jesus’ perspective, it seems like the main thing is the commandment to love. Which, in my mind, makes the most important question this …
How do we learn to love?
I think the answer is incredibly simple:
By being loved.
~By running into His arms, right here, right now–just as you are.
~By climbing up into His lap secure in the knowledge you are wanted and accepted–just as you are.
~By resting in the knowledge that He’s not frustrated or disappointed in you. He’s not impatiently waiting for you to get your act together. He already saw every fear, every failure, every broken promise, and even every time you’d push Him away, but He still chose you–just as you are.
Because intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.
It’s not based on performance, but that doesn’t mean our choices don’t matter. They do matter–a lot. And in this area of intimacy there is one very important choice that matters more than anything …
We must choose to believe.
~To believe we love Him because He first loved us
~To believe it is finished–past, present and future–all our sin is covered. We are beloved and accepted before the throne of grace, always.
~To believe there is a door standing open in heaven–that no man can shut.
Through that open door, access has been granted. Now and forever. Period. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He’s already there waiting. There is NO separation on His end. None. Because intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.
I am so very very glad this is one of the things I have learned along the way.
For a great post on understanding more of the scriptural basis for what I’m attempting to express in this post, check out Mel Wild’s post “What interpretive lens are you looking through?”
Also, a little over a year ago, I wrote this post with a different approach on the same subject.
Blessings and joy to you as you draw near to His heart with confidence!