We all have relationships in our lives. We have relationships with our spouses…our families…and our children. We have relationships with friends…schoolmates… neighbors…coworkers…and clients.
And in all of these relationships, we have different levels of intimacy. Some may only be acquaintances…while others are actual relationships. Some may be superficial …while others are more personal. Some may be strictly business…while others may be more casual. And some may be close…while others may be even closer and very intimate.
So how about your relationship with Jesus? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? If so, how would you describe it?
Is it really a relationship…or just an acquaintance?
Is it superficial…or more personal?
Is it more of a business relationship…you do something for Jesus and in return expect Him to do something in return?
Is it a casual relationship…sometimes you want to be with Jesus and other times you want to be left alone?
Or is it a deeper closer relationship…a passionate intimate relationship?
Wherever we stand in this broad relationship spectrum…It’s important to know that Jesus wants a close intimate relationship with us! Whether we may know this or not…we were created for intimacy!
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. Isaiah 43:10 NIV
If you are Christian today and you don’t feel close or intimate with God…it’s not because He moved! It’s because we moved! We have pulled away for one reason or another.
Jesus says that He will never leave us or forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5)
We determine our level of intimacy with Jesus…not God. It is a choice. And it is our choice how close to God we want to be.
The word “intimacy” can be defined as “a close personal relationship; a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association.”
So check this out…this is pretty interesting! The definition says that intimacy is having “a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association.”
This expresses that there is an association between intimacy and knowledge. Knowing brings intimacy. So this therefore implies that “knowing God” is essential in developing and experiencing an intimate relationship with Him.
I am not talking about…“knowing about God”…but “knowing God.” Knowing about someone and knowing someone are 2 different things. Knowing about God does not bring intimacy…knowing Him does!
And the intimacy that’s created from knowing Him is a result of spending time with Him…and more specifically spending one on one time praying, reading and studying His word.
Just like in any relationship, the more alone time you spend with that person…..the better you get to know them…the more intimate you become.
In the Bible, at least 70 people traveled with Jesus when he preached but only 12 disciples were his close companions. And of the twelve, Peter, James, and John were closer still. But only one of these 3 laid his head on Jesus’ chest. One of these 3 the bible says is “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Jesus did love them all but only one of his followers achieved the highest level of intimacy.
Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” John 21:20 NASB
It was John! John achieved the highest level of intimacy with Jesus!
John spent much time with Jesus…John knew Jesus… and therefore John had a very close relationship with Jesus…John had an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Again…It’s not enough to know about Jesus…We must know Him!
So what exactly does “knowing God” mean?
In the Old Testament of the bible, the Hebrew word “yada” is used and translated in the English as the word “know” or “knowledge.” This Hebrew word has a much broader meaning than the English word “know.” The biblical Old Testament word for “knowing God” means:
To Perceive To Learn
To Understand To Recognize
To Believe To Accept His Claims
To Conform To Be Willing
To Perform or Live To Obey
To See or Experience
These words all come from the Hebrew word “yada” and hold important keys to getting to know God the way He wants us to know Him.
In the New Testament, the Greek words “oida” and “ginosko” are used and have broader meanings like the Hebrew word “yada” but in the context they are used in the New Testament, they also have the following additional meanings. The biblical New Testament word for “knowing God” means:
To Believe and Accept Jesus
To Know Jesus is to Know God
To Know Truth
To Respond in Faith
These Hebrew and Greek translations really take our understanding of defining “knowing God” to another level! “Knowing God” means much more than just understanding and learning about Him.
“Knowing God” is the key to experience a close intimate relationship with Him!
Today I would like to focus on the barriers that can hold us back from “knowing God” and experiencing this close intimate relationship with Him.
Before we can know God and experience intimacy, we need to first recognize if there is anything holding us back. There are several barriers that can hinder our relationship with God.
Barriers to Knowing God intimately:
1. Unconfessed Sin and Unrepentant Heart
Disobedience is a major barrier because it creates distance in our relationship with God. We can’t have an intimate relationship with Him if we don’t respect His boundaries.
Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them. John 14:21 NLT
2. Insufficient Vision
Lack of vision is another barrier. God offers us unimaginable love, joy, peace, and completeness through an intimate relationship with Him. And yet oftentimes we are satisfied with only being mere acquaintances.
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Psalm 53:2 NIV
3. Lack of Belief
Unbelief prevents us from trusting God and knowing Him intimately. We live in a physical realm and even though we cannot see Him with our human eyes we can experience the effects of His presence…and that requires us to have eyes of faith!
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 ESV
4. Preoccupied with Distractions
Busyness can be a barrier to developing a closer relationship with God…even when we are actively serving Him. The story about Mary and Martha in the book of Luke is a great example!
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 NIV
5. Spiritual Warfare
As Christians, Satan knows he has lost hold on your eternal destiny so you better believe that he is going to do everything he can to prevent you from developing intimacy with God and fulfilling His plan for your life. And the previous barrier…busyness…is a great way for Satan to take your focus off God and distract you. FYI: A great acronym for BUSY is Being Under Satan’s Yolk!
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB
Idolatry…anything or anyone that takes the place of God in our lives…is another barrier to knowing God intimately. God should be the center of our lives but we are often tempted to elevate someone else or something to that highest place of priority.
Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun, keep clear away from and avoid by flight if need be, any sort of idolatry, of loving or venerating anything more than God. 1 Corinthians 10:14 AMP
7. Lack of Discipline
Many of us have the desire to know God and have an intimate relationship with Him but we lack the discipline. We aren’t disciplined enough to pray and read God’s word on a daily basis. Going to church and attending bible studies are great but will not create the intimate loving relationship with God as spending one on one time with Him…praying and studying His word.
The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4 HCSB
These barriers will prevent us from knowing God intimately.
Do you recognize any of these barriers in your life?
Interestingly, all the barriers that hinder us from knowing God and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus can be paralleled with the Hebrew/ Greek definitions for “knowing God.”
Unconfessed Sin and Unrepentant Heart…Knowing God means To Obey
Insufficient Vision…Knowing God means To Believe and To Perceive and To Understand
Lack of Belief…Knowing God means To Accept His claims and To Respond in Faith
Preoccupied with Distractions…Knowing God means To Be Willing
Spiritual Warfare…Knowing God means To Recognize and To Know Truth
Idolatry… Knowing God means To Recognize
Lack of Discipline…Knowing God means To Learn, To Perform or Live
God wants an intimate relationship with you! If you aren’t experiencing this intimacy, begin today to take the necessary action in developing and strengthening your relationship with Him.
The benefits of having an intimate relationship with Jesus are unimaginable! The amazing love, peace, joy and completeness you will experience in your life cannot be obtained by anything or anyone else in your life…only by “knowing Him!”
- Do you have a relationship with Jesus? If so, how would you describe it?
- So what exactly does “knowing God” mean?
- Do you recognize any barriers in your life that prevent you from knowing God and having an intimate relationship with Him?
- Understand that we were created for intimacy and that Jesus wants a close intimate relationship with you…not just an acquaintance.
- One of the best ways to get to really “know God” is spending one on one time with Him in prayer and studying His word. Begin developing a daily habit of spending time with Him. Practically speaking….get a bible you understand (My preference is the NIV Life Application Bible). Look to other resources that may help you such as devotional books and devotions that you can subscribe to and receive daily. This will result in developing an intimate relationship with Him.
- Recognize the barriers that may be preventing you from knowing God intimately. Pray that the Lord will help you overcome these barriers and to help you in seeking an intimate relationship with Him.