A body of water needs fresh inflow and regular outflow if it’s to avoid turning into a fetid, stagnant pond. Over-emphasized truth crimps the flow of our lives in one way or the other: on the input or output side. Without an outward focus and expression, the message of intimacy with the Lord will turn us into stinking spiritual ponds.
In the natural, the objective of intimacy is for reproduction. In the natural, frequent intimacy will usually result in another life unless unnaturally stopped–contraception. Teaching intimacy with the Lord, over, and over, and over, and over again without an “output” equivalency, is like spiritual contraception.
Even in the natural, a marriage is not 100% bedroom activity, as enjoyable as that is! There is a real life to live, and if all we ever focused on in a marriage was the bedroom, well, that would be a dysfunctional marriage/husband-wife relationship–one could even say an unhealthy or very immature relationship. It’s the same in our relationship to our Bridegroom.
If all we ever focus on in our walk with the Lord is intimacy, intimacy, intimacy, intimacy, intimacy, intimacy . . . that too is a dysfunctional Husband-Bride relationship, and will eventually degrade into something very unhealthy.
Building a “ministry” with “intimacy with the Lord” as the centrality, is idolatrous and doomed to produce introspective, cult-like results. Intimacy with the Lord can become a false center, a pseudo-God to the point where we do not even worship Jesus any more, but we worship “intimacy” the “thing” the “experience of Jesus,” in an addictive and codependent way, rather than the Person of Jesus. That is idolatry. We do not worship a thing or an experience, we worship Him . . . experience or not. We can get addicted to the “feelings” we get from our idea of what “intimacy” is, and the next thing you know, we are into something very self-absorbed, very deluding. Intimacy must have “output.” The Bible calls it fruit.
The problem is compounded by teaching a false tension between “being and doing.” Clever phrases like “we’re human beings” not “human doers,” “over-seers” not “over- doers,” “we’re call to be, not to do,” and so forth, preach well, but are just not entirely accurate. A coin with an image stamped on only one side is either defective or counterfeit. Emphasizing “being” over “doing” is the same.
I understand that busying one’s self with self-initiated religious activities born out of unresolved inner issues, performance-reward grids, and without relationship with Father is a problem on the output side of life. But the other side of the coin is equally disastrous–a form of religion where the stated objective is nothing more than my personal “touch from the Lord,” “an encounter with God,” “feeling His presence,”–a weekly psychic fix facilitated by stimulating my emotions with the “worship service” and stimulating my mind by the “anointed preaching of the Word.”
Part of our basic salvation “package” is supposed to be identity reintegration (He restores/heals the broken soul–KJV broken-hearted.) where one’s “doing” is simply the effortless and logical overflow of one’s being. Birds fly, fish swim, and horses run. There’s no conflict in that. That’s not “over-doing.” That is function consistent with created identity that is glorifying to God. Birds have no business looking at fish and telling them whether they are “over doing” it or not! Birds don’t know anything about swimming! So it is with us. We need to back-off some of our “deeper-life” perceptions and proclamations of who is or isn’t “over-doing” in their lives.
God is not conflicted in His essence. His being and doing are not in competition with each other. They are seamlessly integrated and simultaneously expressed. We are supposed to be like Him. Yes, sin messes things up for us subjectively, but for the believer, that matter is supposed to have been dealt with in the beginning! (If you preach a meager “go to heaven when you die” sort of salvation message, you will get meager results subjectively).
The “over-doing” problem is not fixed by making it sound like any intentional, personal effort directed toward others is “lower level,” “outer court,” “spiritually shallow,” “doing rather than being” sort of Christian life. NO, over-doing is fixed by healing identity, not by teaching against over-doing! That is as silly as telling a body of water that shutting off outflow will fix an inflow problem. It won’t and it doesn’t.
In fact, I would argue that over-doers should do more of what they are created to do–just from a different life-source center! A transformed, whole, healed, integrated, empowered, new creation identity, rather than an insecure, damaged, lack of sonship, striving, orphan-spirit.
Without an outward, others-aware, actuality-based expression, teaching intimacy with the Lord becomes deluding religious cover for a form of do-nothing, passive, pietistic, religious, narcissism. We can feel very good about ourselves emphasizing intimacy with the Lord, the pursuit of God, etc., sometime even developing a sense of spiritual superiority and elitism. If our pursuit of God does not translate into engagement and love for others, it is illegitimate. If our engagement with others is not the overflow of our vital union with Him, it is just dead human affections trying to be nice to someone else.
Let’s not go there. Let’s be sure that our passion for Jesus in His person and our subjective experience with Him, has an objective “output”: the reflection of His passion–others. Intimacy produces new births. Look around yourself. If all you ever talk about is intimacy, and there are no conversions around you after years or decades of emphasis on “intimacy,” I would suggest an examination and adjustment to the outflow of the pond of your life is in order and that your understanding of “intimacy” needs to be recontextualized.
Copyright 2013, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who partner with us and believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? Thank you and God bless you.