Intimate Communion with God
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The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17
It is essential for us to recognize that God always takes the first step in inviting us to live in this union and communion with him. This is grace in action. We can discover the biblical foundation of this intimacy by first examining Scripture from God’s divine perspective and then from our human vantage point.
As amazing as it may seem, the undeniable truth is that God desires to walk with us in a deepening fellowship. Clarence Macartney (1879–1957), a conservative Presbyterian pastor and leader during the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, preached a sermon titled “God’s Favorite Word—Come.” Although Scripture includes many gracious invitations, Macartney selected the text from Revelation 22:17: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”
Instead of God placing obstacles or elusiveness in our way, this invitation is freely offered to anyone who hungers to know God more deeply. What is significant especially … is God’s strong desire to lead us into a vibrant relationship with the Creator of heaven and earth. Therefore, hungering for God is a gift that God implants in the hearts and minds of those whom He seeks to draw unto Himself. …
In the New Testament, Jesus not only incarnates God’s invitation and desire for union and communion but is the means for making this a reality. As He gathered in the upper room on the last night of His earthly life, Jesus declared: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”1
There is no greater intimacy than for one person to willingly choose to live with another individual. Jesus’ promise does not imply a brief weekend visit but rather a permanent indwelling of God within us.2 This Scripture also captures the dynamic interaction between God and the individual person. Far from being a one-sided relationship, the believer must be obedient to Jesus’ instruction and express sincere love to God. …
A healthy love is always reciprocal and confirms our desire to grow in friendship and fellowship with Him. John Owen has captured this critical component: “Christ having given himself to the soul, loves the soul; and the soul having given itself unto Jesus loveth him also.” This echoes John’s teaching, “We love because he first loved us.”3
Scripture also provides numerous examples of what growing in intimacy with God looks like from the human perspective. ... The psalmist cries out, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”4 ...
Simply stated, there is nothing that can satisfy this deep longing except God.—Tom Schwanda5
Communion through worship
When we dwell on the goodness of God, then His goodness surrounds us and pervades our thoughts and attitudes. When we think positive thoughts, speak positive words, and take positive action, we align ourselves more closely with God and His will and purpose for us. When we praise and worship God, we draw closer to Him.
Through communion with God we gain understanding and perspective of His hand in our lives. Worship puts us on His wavelength. Praise invigorates our faith; it encourages us to see beyond our present circumstances and to focus instead on the fulfillment of God’s promises in answer to our prayers. Gratefulness turns times of trouble into times of triumph. Praise reminds us that with God, all things are possible.6
The more you praise God and express your love for Him, the more reasons you will find to praise Him. The more you worship God, the more naturally your words to Him will flow.
Let’s praise our heavenly Father for all the wonderful things He has done for us in the past and will do for us in the future. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”7
Jesus, all to You we surrender! You are the Creator, we are the creation—created to love You. Help us to love You with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength.8
Plant within us that desire to pursue You and our relationship with You. Help us to persevere in our relationship with You. Help us not to get so wrapped up in our work and the things of everyday life that we don’t realize that first and foremost we need to be close to You, to be intimate with You, to be lovers with You. All this other is good and necessary, but we should not neglect the most important thing—our relationship with You.
Please help us to look upward into Your beautiful face—trusting, praying, praising, and loving You. Help us to come to You, to tell You of our love for You, to constantly show our appreciation for You and to give You all the glory.
May we be ever nearer to You.—Maria Fontaine
Communion through relationship
The Christian life is about fully submitting our lives to God. And when we do, we are living under His agenda. We trust God to have His way with us, as Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”9 This is a promise of God, but His promises are conditional and made within the context of a relationship with Him. Our end is to acknowledge God in all our ways and He will automatically undertake to guide us. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”10
A life with Jesus will be a life of service because we are on His business, wherever He has placed us. We may have the most mundane jobs in the world, but we should not be [discouraged]. In time, God will likely move us on, but wherever we are presently, we are there for His purpose. It is usually in an overwhelmingly secular environment where we do not see any evidence of a relationship with God. But as Christians, we are the light of Christ in that environment, as Jesus said. “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”11
Our Christian life is not the result of our ability to imitate God, but His ability to direct our lives and reproduce Himself in us. To the outside world, it seems revolutionary and perhaps radical, but it is also real. Working with Jesus gives divine purpose to any job we do. In the words of Paul, “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”12
The Christian life is not about perfection, but about our availability. It is about an intimate and loving relationship with Jesus in which He discloses His plans to us and puts us to work in union with Him.—Brett McBride
A communion prayer
O Lord, my God, with whom my soul is married for eternity,13 my inseparable companion—nothing can sever my branch from Your vine.14 Whether or not I feel You near, You stay faithfully by my side. Thank You that You’re not a faraway God. You are by me, inside me, surrounding me, holding me, embracing me.
While sometimes I’m aware of Your presence, help me to be more aware. I want to include You in all my activities. I want to have more conversations with You. It’s so good to know that I can communicate with You!—Not just to praise You, or to ask You favors, or to hear Your whispers in my heart, but to also chat with You as with a close friend. I can comment about things, express my feelings, and in short, I can share my life with You.
Thank You that I don’t have to work for Your love. Thank You that it’s a free gift and that You love me no matter what I do or what I’ve done or what I will do in the future. You don’t base Your love for me on circumstances, conditions, and events; You loved me before I ever loved You.15
Published on Anchor September 2021. Read by Simon Peterson.
Music by Michael Dooley.
1 John 14:23 NIV.
2 See also Ephesians 3:14–21.
3 1 John 4:19.
4 Psalm 42:1–2.
6 Mark 10:27.
7 Psalm 150:6.
8 Mark 12:30.
10 John 15:5.
11 Matthew 5:14, 16.
12 Philippians 2:15–16.
13 Hosea 2:19.
14 John 15:5.
15 1 John 4:19.