“Garlic Bread? Garlic... bread? Garlic? And bread? Am I hearing you right? Garlic bread?” Bolton comedian Peter Kay’s stand-up routine about a family having a holiday meal in a pub and being offered “garlic bread” has entered comedy folklore in this country. The man’s utter shock and bewilderment at this encroachment of “foreign food” in our British way of life was admittedly hilarious. The joke went on to appear in Kay’s TV sit-com “Phoenix Nights” when the lead character says: “Garlic bread – it’s the future, I’ve tasted it!”. It was voted the best one-liner in TV comedy history.
Strangely, it’s a reaction I’ve encountered when talking to people about intimacy with God. “Intimacy with God? Intimacy….with God? Intimacy? And God? Am I hearing you right? Intimacy with God?” Stranger still is my own response to that reaction – “Intimacy with God – it’s the future, I’ve tasted it!” I wonder if that will be voted the best one-liner in pulpit history??
A friend of mine seemed to take an emotional and psychological step back when I told him about my new journey of intimacy with God, as if I’d just told him I was suffering with a lethal and highly contagious disease. “I can relate to God as a Master and as a Father, but how can you be ‘intimate’ with the divine, transcendent creator of the universe?” he said. Good question.
It really exposes our limited definition and understanding of intimacy. Stripped of any sensuous or sexual connotations – intimacy is about proximity, vulnerability, honesty, freedom to speak your heart and profess your love, to pay attention without distraction. One on-line dictionary defines “intimacy” as “close familiarity or friendship – closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, confidentiality”.
Viewed in this way, “intimacy with God” captures the very heart and purpose of the Gospel – that God wants us to stand by His side, wants us to be close friends with Him, to be familiar with Him, to share His life. At the atoning death of Christ, the vail of the temple was torn from top to bottom showing that the way to Him was now open (Hebrews 10:20).
Intimacy with God is all about taking advantage of that open door, spending time with Him, paying attention without distraction, being honest and real with Him as we speak our heart, profess our love and listen for the whisper to our soul.
Song of Songs 1:2 in The Passion Translation says: “Let Him smother me with kisses – His Spirit-kiss divine”. That’s intimate, but not sensuous. Just as God gave us the “kiss of life” in Genesis 2:7, forming us from the dust of the ground and breathing His breath of life into us; and just as after the resurrection Jesus met the disciples, “breathed on them” and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22) – so too now Jesus wants to smother every one of us with kisses, the Spirit-kiss divine, breathing His life into us through the Word and through the Spirit.
In John 14:21 (TPT) Jesus says: “Whoever passionately loves me will be passionately loved by my Father. And I will passionately love you in return and will manifest my life within you”. Two verses later Jesus says “The Father will love you so deeply that we will come to you and make you our dwelling place”. That’s intimacy! You can’t get much closer than that.
Defining intimacy is one thing, achieving it is another! I’ve discovered this year that though you can’t just create intimacy – you can create the context for intimacy. Intimacy is something that develops and grows in the right conditions. Psalm 23:2 (TPT) says: “He offers a resting place for me in His luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss”.
Over the next couple of “blog posts” I hope to share about the tracks that took me to the oasis of peace, the disciplines I discovered that have led me to, and kept me in, His intimate presence. Intimacy with God? It’s the future, I’ve tasted it!
A blog by Pastor Brendan munro
Welcome to my blog - thank you for stopping by! I’ve never done this before and I’m only doing it now after friends encouraged me to share more widely of the life-changing journey I’ve been on with God over the past couple of years.