Fr. Larry Richards is the founder and president of The Reason for our Hope Foundation, a non- profit organization dedicated to "spreading the Good News" by educating others about Jesus Christ. His new homilies are posted each week.
Manage episode 294087640 series 2106353
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Introduction There are moments when my wife and I are at home and my wife will be reading a book. I’ll be doing something else in the same room but not necessarily saying anything to each other. If you’re like me you occasionally think it doesn’t get any better than this. Just being in the presence of the one you love. True intimacy is rooted in ongoing relationship that enables us to know one another well enough that neither words nor feelings are needed to communicate. Presence is enough. The Biblical word for intimacy is ‘knowing.’ ‘Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived’ Genesis 4:1, When we contrast Adam's experience with David's one-night stand. The Bible says that David ‘lay’ with Bathsheba 2 Samuel 11:4 David shared a moment of passion with Bathsheba but he did not ‘know’ her, for they had no ongoing relationship. They were not intimate in the Biblical sense of the word. God's desire for man from the very beginning has been for us to know Him and to walk in intimate fellowship with Him. He proved this by forming the body of the first man, Adam, with His own hands and breathing life into him face-to-face rather than simply speaking him into existence as He had all other created things Genesis 2:7. God did not distance Himself from Adam until Adam sinned. At that moment God set into motion His redemptive plan, designed to bring fallen man once again into the level of intimacy He had intended. The apostle Paul understood God's desire and considered everything in his life a loss other than the privilege of knowing Christ. He wrote: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:7-10 Paul was clearly seeking a level of relationship with God that cannot be attained through intellectual activity, religious works or temporary emotional experiences. He was seeking intimacy. He wanted to know the width, length, height and depth, of God Ephesians. 3:18 Such intimacy does not just happen. It is something we have to pursue, both in our marriages and in our relationships with God. 1.Avoid Substituting Religious Activity for Relationship. This was the mistake the Israelites made. They came to believe that their religious works were the same as their relationships with God. Isaiah condemned them for practicing only outward religion with no corresponding relationship Isaiah 1 Jesus preached repeatedly about this error. He warned against practicing hypocrisy as the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day did. They worshipped God with their mouths, but their hearts were far from Him Matthew 23. We must guard of making this error with God. We should serve God, but service must be preceded by relationship. God is more pleased to have us walk with Him in relationship than He is to have us serve Him. This is not to negate the importance of service. But we must be sure that our service is born out of relationship. 2. Seek the Presence of God in His Word. Intimacy can never be established divorced of presence. Sadly, as students of Jesus we aren't always sure how to enter into God's presence. Many times we seek experiences that move us emotionally and cause us to feel a sense of closeness with Him. One way is to learn to hear His voice through His Word. When God first created Adam and Eve, they were able to fellowship with Him directly. Genesis 3:8 tells us, Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. God's presence was His voice walking in the garden. Today, God's intimate presence with us is still His voice. We hear it in a variety of ways--through signs, gifts of the Spirit and other such experiences; and whenever God speaks directly to our hearts. But one aspect of His voice that is always available is His written Word, the Bible. Even when we don't feel His presence, His voice is with us in His Word. 3.Commit Yourself to God. We can never achieve intimacy through a casual encounter or an on, off-again relationship. The Bible teaches us that sexual experience without the commitment of marriage is fornication. Let us beware lest we become fornicators in our relationship with God, seeking only pleasure and experience without commitment. The Israelites fell short on commitment, and they never entered into fullness of relationship with God 1 Corinthians 10:5-11 Intimacy with God cannot be realised by attending church for a few hours on Sunday morning or going to conferences and seminars once in a while. We can know God only to the extent that we commit to Him. Conclusion Faith is not concerned with what we believe. Faith is about whom we believe. The what of faith can be known by study and even experienced by emotions. The whom of our faith, must be encountered through intimate relationship. Let us pursue intimacy with God. Let us serve Him because we know Him. Let us determine that we will seek relationship, not experiences. All we really need is the ever-present voice of God in His Word. It really doesn't get any better than knowing God and having intimate relationship with Him.