When we talk about God, we’re talking about relationship before anything else. Before all creation, there was mutually shared love between the Father and the Son (John 17:24). This is important because God is love, and for Him to be love He must be able to express it within Himself, apart from His creation.
God is specifically agape love (1 John 4:8), which means other-centered, self giving benevolence (literally, “good-will”). Jesus summed up the purpose of the entire Hebrew Scriptures by saying to walk in this other-centered love (Matt.7:12; 22:37-40) as He walks in this love (John 15:9-10). This is what it means to “obey” Jesus.
John’s gospel begins by reciting an early Christian hymn that predates the gospel:
1 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be. (John 1:1-3 NASBR *)
The highlighted word “with” (pros) means “face to face.” Before all creation, Jesus Christ, the Word, the Eternal Son, was face to face with the Father within the Triune Godhead, lavishing His love upon the Father, as the Father lavished His love upon the Son. The early church referred to this as perichoresis, or “divine dance.” (I’ve talked a lot about this in other posts). But this also speaks of a specific type of relationship—intimacy.
You and I were made for intimacy. What every human being needs is intimacy. That’s why it hurts so much when intimacy is betrayed or broken. But we need to ask, what is intimacy? Some have used the phrase “in-me-see” in order to help us understand it.
Unfortunately, some only think of sexual intimacy. While that might be helpful in one way, it doesn’t begin to define it. And it actually could take us further away from it because you can have sexual intimacy without ever actually being intimate.
True intimacy can only exist in a environment where other-centered love is freely given in the relationship. Not the kind of “freedom” where one feels free to do whatever they want at the expense of another. Quite the opposite. This freedom is not only other-centered but fully disclosing. There’s no more hiding and pretending, no more secrets, self-serving pretenses, walls of self-protective distrust, ulterior motives, or a religious veneer masking the authentic you. It’s a place of utter vulnerability and trust and honor and profound knowing. Intimacy is where we’re fully alive and fully human.
The writer of Hebrews calls it the place of rest waiting for everyone (Heb.4:1-16). This rest means there’s no performance necessary, no need to justify oneself or be vindicated in any way. Our inner warfare has ended. We let go of those illusions to simply come and rest.
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt.28-30 MSG)
We know from quantum science that separation is an illusion. Everything is intimately and ultimately connected to everything else in the cosmos. Theologically speaking, Paul teaches this by citing another early oral creed of the Church:
16 For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together. (Col.1:16-17 NASBR *)
In other words, there’s no such thing as “outside” of Christ. Thinking we’re separated is called “blindness” in Scripture. It’s our unawareness and stubborn lack of cooperation. But when we do turn our hearts toward Him, our “eyes” begin to open to this greater reality. And we begin to see that everything about God and creation and life itself is in context with relationship and intimacy.
Eternal life is not about a place called heaven or a length of time. It’s a relationship to Love; it’s to be intimately connected to God’s very own zoe life that exists outside of space and time. It has always been and always will be. And we’ve been invited to participate in this Eternal Fellowship…this Dance.
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 *)
2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:2-3 *)
Eternal life is about intimacy.
What brings this all together in koinōnia (fellowship) is the Holy Spirit (2 Cor.13:14).
To separate oneself from Love would be the opposite of intimacy, which would be a good metaphor for hell.
I’ve shared this song a couple of times before on this blog, but it’s appropriate here when we think about God, love, relationship…and intimacy.