Intimacy with Jesus: Strength for the single life

Intimacy with Jesus can be the most rewarding experience in life, yet few of us experience it. Why is that?

You would think single people, without the distractions of a family, would eagerly pursue this most fulfilling relationship, but many things hold us back. At the top of the list is simple lack of desire.

There's an old saying that God is a gentleman; he will never force himself upon anyone. He will, however, gently draw you to Jesus. Whether you follow through is up to you.

Let's look at what happens when you do accept this offer.

A different kind of intimacy

When we hear the word "intimacy," we often think of a sexual relationship. Our society has conditioned us to think that way, but that wasn't the original definition of the term. Intimacy with Jesus means close familiarity or friendship.

You can and should tell Jesus everything. Don't hold back. You may think this is unnecessary because he knows it all already, but detailing your problems and desires helps clarify them in your own mind, and that's when the Holy Spirit gives you understanding.

Don't expect Jesus to speak to you in an audible voice as you're building this friendship. It has never happened to me, and I think it's extremely rare. What will happen, instead, is strong promptings by the Holy Spirit. Usually they're not articulated into words but come as a startling new insight into your situation. My experience has been that these revelations have been so brilliant I knew they did not come from my own mind. They can only be the work of God.

Many people believe intimacy with Jesus is accelerated when we talk or pray to him out loud. Of course, you'll only want to do this when you're alone, but again, it helps you sort out your desires and understand them better yourself. Sometimes when you actually hear them, you realize how selfish they are.

Just as you wouldn't like a friend who came to you only when she wanted something, don't make all your conversations with Jesus "gimme" petitions. The Giver is our goal, not his gifts.

I like to thank Jesus for a beautiful sunset, for all my meals, for a fun time with my friends, and for my physical health. When I see something remarkable, I sometimes say, "Look at that, Jesus!" If you'd say it to your best earthly friend, you can say it to Jesus. He is interested in every detail of your life.

Intimacy with Jesus: A commitment

We can learn something important about intimacy with Jesus from the First Commandment:

"I am the LORD your God…You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:2-3, NIV)

Let's recognize that Jesus is God. As a member of the Trinity, everything that applies to God the Father also applies to him.

Jesus knows you have to work. He understands it consumes most of your time. He doesn't expect you to worship him 40 or 50 hours a week. But he does want you to value him more than your career.

If you want true intimacy with Jesus, you can't make your bond with him a hobby or something you pursue only when you have spare time. Mark this: Jesus lives inside you through the Holy Spirit. He wants to talk with you throughout your day and night. He wants to guide you in every decision. He wants to support you when the world tries to knock you down.

Put Jesus first, treat him as your mentor on the job and you can rely on him to help you. Put him first on the weekend and on your vacation and he will keep you from going astray. When your first question is, "Do you approve of what I'm doing, Jesus?", you'll make wiser decisions.

Accept his Lordship

That brings us to a second important point. To enjoy intimacy with Jesus, you have to accept him not only as Savior, but also Lord of your life. What does that mean?

Just as your relationship with him can't be part-time, so your obedience to Jesus can't be halfway. He makes it clear:

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21, ESV)

We don't obey Jesus to work our way to heaven. We obey his commandments out of love and gratitude for what he has already done for us on the cross.

Yes, we all have a sinful nature. We are not capable of obeying perfectly, and Jesus does not expect that. However, he does want us to confess our sins to him and repent, then he forgives us.

This is important, single friend. Jesus doesn't play games. He won't tolerate lip service when it comes to obedience. Try to lead a double life, and you can expect discipline. It won't be pleasant.

Is there a 'how-to' for this?

Because each Christian is unique, intimacy with Jesus will take a different path with every person. When we love someone, we want to know everything about them. The best place to start with Jesus is reading the gospels. His character and personality come alive in the words of the Bible.

As always, I recommend a solid study Bible with plenty of footnotes explaining the text. The ESV Study Bible is an excellent resource and one I've been using for years. It's more detailed than The NIV Study Bible.

Prayer, which is simply talking with God, lets you open your heart to Jesus. My personal experience has taught me you shouldn't expect things to happen quickly. It may take years as God prepares you to receive wisdom through this special relationship.

One more important point: My own closest times with Jesus have been when I was suffering. When you're in pain, when you're scared or depressed or grieving, Jesus is right there, hearing your weakest cry. Jesus is the one friend who never deserts you. He loves you no matter what. Pour out your heart to him and let him comfort you.

Intimacy with Jesus is your highest calling, the greatest privilege you can experience in this life. Imagine: You, becoming close, personal friends with the Creator of the entire universe!

To love him and feel his love coming back, warming your heart and mind, is an incredible prelude to the fellowship you will have with Jesus in heaven for all eternity. Who wouldn't want that?

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