Thursday, April 10, 2014

Intimacy: How Low Can You Go

I don't want to overstate this and say that I have the secret to a great marriage...or a great relationship...but I think God has given me a glimpse of at least one of the "secrets." In fact, I'm not sure it is even a secret...because God demonstrated it in front of the whole of creation.

Let's start at the beginning. God created us. He created us to know Him. He created us out of and for the purpose of Love. And Love is about relationship. So God created us so that we could have a loving relationship with Him (as well as with eachother). And so God took the first step toward that relationship. He drew near. He, the Creator of all that existed, the omnipotent God who needs nothing, reached out to us. At first He revealed Himself to us (after the Fall) as a voice, a force, an apparition. He was invisible and seemingly distant (though closer than He had ever been before). But simply by reaching out and revealing Himself, and speaking to us, He was closer. And because of that, our relationship with Him grew...because He opened the door for us to communicate with interact. He drew closer.

And over time God continued to reveal Himself, both to large groups and to individuals. But all along He knew this was only the first step. And eventually, He took the next one. This Creator God, this Infinite Person so desired a relationshp with us that He became one of us. He came down from Heaven and took a place next to us. He was born as we were, He grew up as we did, He walked among us, touched us, healed us. He sweated, and felt pain, and went to the bathroom. This Limitless, Unfathomable God became one of His creatures and experienced all that we experienced. He drew closer.

But even that wasn't the end. There was still another step. God desired to be still closer to know us more closely...more initmately (which is to say He desired us to know Him ore closely and more intimately). And so God once again stepped closer. Our Awesome, Boundless, Inexhaustable God made Himself into a piece of bread and a cup of wine and allowed us to literally take Him inside of us. He made Himself food for us. The Everlasting God of Creation allowed His creature to eat Him. He went from being in front of us, to being inside of us. That is intimacy.

But incredible, and amazing, and awe-some as that is, how does that help us? We obviously can't follow that same path in our marriage or other relationships. Or can we?

I think we can. And I think the key is right there. At every every moment...God humbled Himself. He lowered Himself for our sake. He so desired to be close to be intimate...that He continually put aside His Greatness, His Glory. Instead of demanding that we come to Him or that we praise Him, He lifted us up by lowering Himself. He made Himself second for our sake. And I think that is one of the secrets to marriage...or any relationship.

We get closer, but humbling ourselves. When we put the other person first, when we care more about their needs and wants than our own, and when we are willing to put aside even those things that may be justifiably ours ("me time", forgiveness, relaxation, the moral high ground, frustration, pain and hurt, etc.), it is then that we are able to get closer to the other person. It is then that we find intimacy.

I don't say this suggesting that this is easy...and certainly not to suggest this is what I do in my relationships...definitely not consistently...but I think this is a path. If we will deny ourselves for the sake of others, if we will say we are sorry even when it wasn't our fault, if we overlook and forgive in silence the hurt the other person caused us, and if we choose to do the thing or go to the place or watch the show that makes the other person happy even when it would not have been our choice...THEN we find the door to intimacy is open. THEN we find barriers removed, distance bridged, and past hurts healed. Yes, it may not be a secret, but I think Our Father has shown us that great marriages...and great relationships...require that we humble ourselves. Just like Him, we need to lower ourselves for the sake of lifting our spouse/friend. And just like Him, there shouldn't be a limit as to how low we will go (in terms of humility) for those we are called to Love.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8).

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