The Promise is to You

Intimacy with God and the Second Commandment

Intimacy with God has the primary result of deepening our union with him. It enables us to live out the Greatest Commandment and prepares us for Heaven. Our intimacy with God bears another sublime fruit as well. It is what enables us to obey the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8).

When I first read those verses years ago as a young teen, I wondered if it was true that without God one could not love. Shortly thereafter a few difficult situations evolved and I was surprised by how difficult I found it to love some of the people involved. I didn’t know what to do without God’s help.

I ran to prayer, pouring out my problems to God and begging for his help. He consoled me and, one day at a time, sometimes visibly and sometimes invisibly, he enabled me to learn to love.

It was a process, though. I had to come to God each day. I had to talk things through with him. I began journaling, which made it easier to articulate what was on my mind and to focus on him. When I thought Jesus was speaking to me, I would write down what he said. In the years since then I’ve realized that some of what I wrote was from him and some was not. Yet even when it was not, the practice of listening for his voice and trying to recognize it increased my ability to eventually do so.

I found help in the Scriptures too. Many times I would open my Bible, unfamiliar with the different books and uncertain what to read, and I would open to a verse that spoke particularly to my situation or encouraged me. As I came to know the Lord better, one of my favorite passages became Psalm 63.

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name. (Ps 63:1-4)

As I prayed this Psalm and others, I found myself breaking into praise. I began lifting my hands and singing the songs of worship that I had learned from going to church and to prayer meetings. Through praise I was reminded of who God is, and my problems began to shrink in proportion. He filled me with his love and joy!

All of a sudden, loving people was not nearly as hard as it had been. Sometimes I hardly thought about it anymore; I just did it. God’s love changed everything!

It wasn’t until many years later that I began to understand the process of what had happened. Without my realizing it, Jesus had walked me into intimacy with him and from that intimacy into the ability to love those around me.

While I would like to say that I’m an expert at this, I’m painfully aware that that’s not true. Rather, each day there is a choice to be made: Am I going to draw closer to God today so that his love will flow through me?

This is a good thing. Having to choose each day, and frankly many times each day, to love forces me to stay in touch with God. When I step back and think about what that means –connecting many times a day with Love Himself – I start praying right away. It is a joy to be with him!

Renowned spiritual director Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M, wrote beautifully about this. “Heroic love for God and neighbor is, of course, closely aligned to profound intimacy with the indwelling Trinity. To a large extent, they are the same thing. We love Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the extent that we are in intimate prayer communion with them which is lived out in our actions” (Deep Conversion Deep Prayer).

Living it out in our actions is critical. When we love those around us, we love God in them. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

Not only is intimacy with God the key to everything in our relationship with God, it holds the key to everything for those around us as well. It’s said that for some people we may be the only Bible they read. For those who do not know Jesus – and those are often the most challenging people to love – it is more important than ever that we love them with Jesus’ love.

For them too, loving God is all that will matter in the end. And how can they love him whom they do not know?

 

By Christy Whiting, Upper Room Director.

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2 Comments

  1. Stefanie
    Posted August 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    It is true that intimacy with the Holy Spirit affects those around us. After being prayed over to receive the gift of tongues and exercising the gift with two beautiful sisters in the Lord, my children asked my husband what had happened to me. When asked what they meant, they said that I was different, more calm, I didn’t yell as much (in other words I was more loving, patient, kind…the fruit of the Holy Spirit). My husband in his wisdom answered them “That’s the Holy Spirit” in her. Thanks be to God!

    • Christy Whiting
      Posted August 20, 2015 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      What a beautiful testimony! May the Holy Spirit continue to flow through you, Stefanie!

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