Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Power of Intimacy

Back in 2007 my then church had just repeated it's history of damaging one another over leadership issues (mentioned in Part 1 of my story), and this time it had ended with the mass resignation of the entire leadership team (pastor and elders).

Those who remained knew we needed to step up and bring what we had to the table. If we wanted the church to keep going, we had to be an active participant.

Even though the circumstances which led us to this place were extremely unhappy, there was a real excitement in me because it felt like God was giving us a chance to explore 'doing church' as described in his written word.
Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you. 1Cor 14:26 NLT
I looked at what I had to offer and it didn't take me long to realise that everything I'd done in the past was centred around prayer. That was my passion - and so I started a prayer gathering. The only thing I insisted on was that there be no rules or schedules. We were to gather with no other agenda than to meet with God.

Over time, a small core group of regular attendees developed. As we pressed in, we started to learn the importance of being truly honest and open with each other before God. It seemed that this led us into places of great intimacy with him. He would clearly direct us as we learned to sit and wait on him. Sometimes this meant waiting in silence, learning to enjoy just being with him, and learning to listen and be patient.

We found that God challenged many of our understandings, like learning to worship in new and varied ways (none of which involved music!).

Sometimes I felt like Mary, sitting at Jesus's feet. Overwhelmed by his presence but never wanting to leave.

It is hard to articulate all that we experienced, but the more transparent we became with each other, the more God seemed to guide and speak to us. Not that we were always in agreement or thought and acted alike, but we had such a genuine love for each other that it never became an issue.

Relationship was our priority and we allowed nothing to threaten that.

There is incredible power and authority in the loving unity of the children of God. Throughout the history of the church, the enemy has used dissension, discord and division to stifle the effectiveness of God's people. No wonder Christ's prayer was that we would be one just as he and the Father are one!

Living openly with others - knowing and being known - brings extraordinary freedom.

I remember one night, meditating on the story of Adam and Eve walking with God in intimate relationship and I asked God what it would mean to 'reclaim Eden'. The answer that came to me was simple - "Learn to walk naked and unashamed."

To me, this spoke of the freedom of being who we are, no masks, nothing hidden, just 'nakedly' ourselves - yet fully forgiven and wholly righteous before our God. Accepted. Loved.

Living free from the fear that being known means being rejected.

Living free from the pretence, the pose, the performance.

Living in intimacy with our God and each other. Knowing and reflecting his love. Unashamed.

I firmly believe that the journey we took in our little group is a reflection of Kingdom life as we are called to live it. And I believe that this is part of being the church - being relational with all and learning to live in intimacy and be unafraid.

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