Today in Family Living class we were looking at the filter theory on relationships. The idea is that the intimacy level of a relationship can be judged, or improved, by rating degrees of seven filter areas. The people closest to the bulls-eye of our target are those with whom we have the most intimate relationships. If you want to improve your intimacy level then working on any of the filters further in will help.
If we apply this filter to our relationship with God how would we fare?
#1 Physical and Emotional Closeness – On the physical side of this scale we run into the same snag as people for centuries because since the ascension of Christ there has been no solid tangible presence of God on earth. We can not reach out and touch God, but the emotional attachment to God is probably the earliest that most of us remember. God is love, how can we not be emotionally attached? (We will leave the issue of anger at God for another day)
#2 Sharing Values – As Christians our very understanding of values comes to us from the word of God. While it may be true that people who are not Christian share many values like honesty and loyalty with us, the Bible provides with a clear moral outline which is not provided in the secular world.
#3 Reward Expected – If we were looking for reciprocity in the relationship I’m afraid God would be left the loser on reward expected. From God we expect much and have his promise to count on. If we believe, we can expect forgiveness and everlasting life. Rewards don’t get much better than those! What do we give to God? We do well to give God thanks and praise. If you have done the catechism you will recognize this as the chief end of man.
#4 Time Spent Together – Here is one area where most of us could stand to improve. God is with us 24/7 through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but how often are we truly with him? One hour/week in church? Are we with God when we are at committee meetings at the church? Some part of every day as we study the Bible or pray? Moments of crisis only? I think it is safe to say that we can all stand to increase our time spent together with God.
#5 Level of Exclusivity – We know that God loves every person in the world just as much as the others. God is the only God and expects us to remember that. This is the first commandment, ” I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” (Deut. 5:6-7) This exclusivity is also the core of the shema, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deut. 6:4). Jesus taught that, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt 6:24)
#6 Level of Commitment – We will never live up to God’s level of commitment shown in the sacrifice of his son, himself, on the cross for our sins. On the other hand, we can rely on both his help in standing firm and his welcome back after our failures.
#7 Degree of Disclosure – Whether or not we choose to share with God, he already knows everything about us, but he wants us to share with him. He desires that intimacy with us. Admitting our sins and weaknesses can be very daunting for us, even when we know it won’t be new news to God. If we share it with God, that means that we have to admit it to ourselves.
So, do you see some areas in which you can work to increase your intimacy with God? I know I do. Let’s aim for that bull’s eye!