A couple months ago I wrote a post regarding community and intimacy, about how these two traits provide a balm over the loneliness many singles in the church viciously wrestle with. The point was to highlight how God has set up His church to be a place and people where these two events manifest, mainly because He has had community and intimacy inside and with Himself, by way of the Trinity, since before the world existed. Recently I have been thinking deeply about how both community and intimacy are not separately needed ways of living for the believer, but how they are, in fact, complementary in nature and congruently juxtaposed to one another. Basically, community without intimacy leads to clutter; and intimacy not found in the confines of community can just as easily lead way to idolatry. Of the two, community seems to be the easiest to find. Outside of proximity problems, placing ourselves inside the body is not difficult. But what about intimacy? The word itself lends to a risky way of diving into a setting in a way that transcends being just another randomly placed ornament on the tree of church. But what is intimacy? And where and how do you find and obtain it?
Intimacy Desired Rightly
Recently I’ve talked more in depth to the definition of intimacy, using Psalm 139 to show that God intimately knows me, thoroughly and truly, and also 1 John 1 to show that I was made to be deeply known inside community. But what happens when you long for intimacy in a way that doesn’t seem to be being fed inside the beautifully set bounds of community? Is the problem external or internal? This is the introspective crossroad I found myself to be at recently. As a single male, by God’s grace to walking in light among my brothers and sisters, I am constantly faced with the dilemma of properly seeking intimacy. Both males, single and married, as well as singles, of either gender, can sometimes reduce intimacy to something that only married people can enjoy. No one would deny that marriage provides an intimacy that seems almost ethereal at times. This idea that two people pledge themselves, the entirety of themselves, to one another in a committed, self-sacrificing covenant that only ends under the separation and ending of life itself. It is a beautiful picture indeed. But what about the single man and woman? Are we to marvel at that kind of intimacy from afar, always enjoying the view but never the actual experience?
God is Intimacy
In Paul David Tripp’s new book entitled “Awe”, he shows us that we were created to be in constant awe of God, and that ever since the Fall of Man in Genesis 3, we have been desperately in need of regaining that awe back, always looking to replace what Tripp calls “awe God with awe of self”. In one chapter, Tripp breaks down a crucial characteristic of God that rings true to all of His virtues and character traits. He takes us back to Garden of Eden to the moment Satan starts his temptation of Eve, showing us that Eve, in that moment, forgot the same thing we forget about God when we look at ourselves instead of our all-knowing Creator. In Genesis 3:6, after the enemy of all things true and good gave Eve some “compelling” reasons to commit treason against her Loving Father, the verse reads: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of this fruit and ate…” (ESV). In response to this verse, Tripp writes “Eve was enjoying close, personal, loving, daily communion with the One who is Wisdom. She was in fellowship with the most awesome source of wisdom that ever existed or ever would exist. She didn’t need wisdom……So what then was Eve seeking?”. Please notice this. Eve forgot that God, Himself, is in fact the Wisdom itself. Wisdom comes from God. God is Wisdom. Without God, true wisdom does not exist. The same is true with all characteristics of God. Love, Justice, Truth, Wisdom, and Intimacy. Without God, intimacy does not exist. It is He that created intimacy, and by creating us, He not only created us to desire intimacy, but created us in such a way that it will only be found in Him. God is intimacy. An event of God’s condescension called “common grace” allows that even unbelievers can experience the event of intimacy. But this is only allowed because God exist. Romans 1 says that God’s essence and presence is evidently seen throughout all of His creation, therefore the side-effects of God spiritual footprint on the earth is everyone’s ability to enjoy the fruits of His characteristics. But for the believer, we have an intimacy beyond just a trail essence of His being. And this intimacy is found in, yes, a marriage.
Beginning and Ending in Intimacy
If you are a believer found in Christ Jesus, then guess what? You are already married. This divine cosmic proposal came through God sending Jesus to earth. The person of work of Jesus bought and offered salvation. The cross became a sovereign engagement ring by which God invites his children to be joined to Him through Christ for all eternity. The wedding culminating this engagement is the setting for Revelations 21:2-3. It reads, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (ESV). Take note of the matrimonial and intimate language used here. God is with man, He dwells with them, we are His people and He is with them as their God. Here we see God pledging Himself to us as our God in a never-ending covenant. These are the most beautiful wedding vows ever spoken. God’s desire to be intimate with His creation has always been and will always be.
The Intimately Unmarried
Marriage as we see it here on earth is only a glimpse compared to the true marriage that will transcend millennia and last eternally. Marriage is a good thing to desire; it glorifies God when we want a marriage that glorifies Him. But you do not have to wait for an earthly marriage to participate in having intimacy. God has called you into intimacy now with Him that will outlast you’re earthly marriage. Intimacy by God’s grace is available to us now, single and married. Intimacy always starts with God.