I know you’re out there. In fact, I know there are untold millions of you out there.
You’ve heard about the need for “intimacy with God” and “having a personal relationship with God” and how “it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship,” and you're just not feeling it. You’ve maybe even mustered up the courage to admit to a close friend or pastor that you’re not getting the feelings that everyone else is getting. Maybe you’ve been reassured that “feelings come and go but God’s love never changes!” But the unspoken answer underneath that pat-answer is this: “keep trying and maybe someday you’ll be intimate with God like the rest of us.”
Which is a profoundly sad thought. It’s like God has His omnipotent hands tied; “He’s trying to be intimate with you, but you need to do your part…”
And God’s Word says none of these things. You’ve been taught a pack of lies. Seriously.
You’ve been taught the latest version of Gnosticism or Mysticism or Pietism or Semi-Pelagianism or some other “ism” that’s been circulating since the very start of the Christian Church; but it’s been firmly declared as un-biblical heresy in the first few centuries of church history. But since the modern Evangelical church usually ignores theology, church history and often even the Bible itself, it’s no wonder that bad ideas that can be easily refuted are not. Instead, these bad ideas flourish and grow under the profitable nurturing of false teachers disguised as pastors (often with good intentions).
If you’ve been hurt, confused or frustrated by your lack of emotional experiences with God, this little article is for you. You're the person out in the lobby getting some coffee while the "worship service" keeps going and going... and going. I've been out there with you.
You are not the problem.
The Pharisees were rebuked by Jesus for keeping people under a burden-a heavy load-that they would not move.
Today, the latest version of a Pharisee is always telling you that you need something more-something bigger and better. "More Lord, more..."
Something Super Spiritual. Something Really Deep. The Next Level. A New Secret to really getting close to God...
So here’s the real Good News:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast.”
— Ephesians 2:4-9
True Christianity is God coming and rescuing us from sin and death. It’s God doing 100% and us doing 0%.
Just believe-and be free!
(This article is written for Christians, so I'm simplifying a bit; technically I should be mentioning repentance and baptism, but hopefully you get the point)
Just believe. That isn’t just enough-it’s much, much more than enough!
In fact, it seems just too good to be true...
So, in our tiny human brains we feel compelled to “do our part” and show God we “really mean business!” We actually like it when pastors put us back under the Law so that we can show how serious we are about serving God. We actually like it when the pastor gets all worked up and “really preaches it” about our need to “do more for God.” And our refusal to accept the total and complete gift of salvation rears its ugly head when we think we can get even closer to God by our subjective and ambiguous mystical experiences. And, to make matters worse, we sometimes look down on our fellow believer who actually admits that they don’t “feel” intimate with God.
Jesus never said: “Someday I’m going to require my followers to muster up a great deal of emotional fervor so that my love can really be felt.”
Jesus never said: “If you really love me and want to be close to me you will have an intimate encounter with me during an extended quiet time (or worship service, or special Intimacy Conference...).”
Jesus never said: “It’s not enough to just read my Word; you need to go beyond my Word and experience me in a personal way.”
Jesus did say: “Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”
That’s intimacy with God; instituted by God; described in God’s Word. Your intense and dramatic feelings: Optional.
You can stop following the teachings of men and be truly free.
It is finished, indeed!
Also, here's a great episode of The White Horse Inn on this topic: