Moving from Proximity to Intimacy with Christ

I’ve seen many people ebb and flow in their faith. It is easy to feel that God is ever-present in our lives one week while seemingly vanishing the next. What we seem to continuously forget is that God is the constant in our lives. Our circumstances are always fluctuating, but when we pursue God, regardless of our outside conditions, we are cultivating an environment where deep, healthy faith can grow. It’s a grace to welcome Heath Adamson to the blog as he reminds us to relentlessly pursue Christ and to nurture our soul’s most desired relationship…

guest post by Heath Adamson

One of the most significant Bible verses in my life is related to the Spirit’s work, and it is found in John 3:34: “He gives the Spirit without measure.”

Who is He? Jesus.

This is the reason I say we are all as close to God as we want to be.

There are no limits to how much we can know the unknowable love of God. Our discoveries never have to end. We are solely responsible for cultivating the spiritual environment we live in.

I am from Iowa and, for this reason, often think in agricultural terms. If the promises of God are like seeds falling on soil, and the Spirit of God is like well-given rain in season, our hearts are the environment.

Iowa is known for its agriculture. But if I take rich black soil from Iowa and plant orange seeds from Valencia, Spain, in it, and the rain falls just right, I still won’t produce a harvest of oranges.

Why?

The environment is wrong.

The right seeds, planted in the right dirt, don’t always produce the right harvest.

We are responsible to cultivate the environment of our heart so that, by the Spirit of God, we can inherit what God makes accessible to us as sons and daughters by the way we think and the way we live.

Joy Prouty

Bamboo farmers in southeast Asia understand this.

A strain of rare and valuable bamboo is grown in Malaysia. When the seed is planted in the first year, it is important to water and fertilize as necessary. At the end of the first year, nothing visibly happens.

The same process occurs in years two, three, and four. After days of hard work, there are no results observable to the human eye.

Four years is a long time to water, fertilize, and stare at the ground hoping something of value will one day grow.

The farmer has no guarantees other than that he or she believes that the process will work because, in that particular environment, it has before.

It is in the fifth year that the bamboo grows ninety feet in thirty days.

Just imagine harvesting bamboo in Malaysia and then moving to Alaska, hoping to do the same thing. Four years of work and, in the fifth year, rather than reaping what you’ve sown, all that grows is disappointment.

You can have the right seed and the right soil, and even implement the right process, but without the right environment it won’t grow.

This is what happened to Judas Iscariot. He sat around with the other disciples and heard the same teachings, witnessed the same miracles, participated in the same Passover meals, and observed the Sabbath.

He produced a different harvest than the others, and it wasn’t because Jesus gave him a different type of seed. It is because of the environment of Judas’s heart.

This is why David prayed in Psalm 51, after the traveler was fed, for God to “renew a right Spirit” within him.

David acknowledged how important the internal reality is to each one of us. What we think, how we feel, our motives, and both the large and microscopic choices that make up our days are the environment the Spirit’s work is planted in. When the environment is right, the fruit of the Spirit grows (Gal. 6:9).

We are asked, even commanded, to cultivate a place where the Spirit of God remains.

When an individual resists God’s Spirit, he or she fights against God (Isa. 63:10). We are commanded not to grieve the Spirit. In Ephesians 4:30–31 we are then told how this grieving occurs: through our bitterness, anger, slander, and malice.

Note that bitterness and malice are in the same verse. We can resist the Spirit of God (Acts 7:51), lie to him (5:3), and insult his grace (Heb. 10:29).

We can even quench the Spirit like a flame (1 Thess. 5:19). Hebrews 3:15 is a verse repeated numerous times in the Bible: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

When we move from proximity to intimacy, from being almost yielded to being completely authentic and vulnerable with God, paying attention to the subtle whisper of God’s Spirit creates the right internal environment for us to spiritually thrive.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our sacred chase, the same Spirit who landed upon Him and empowered Him to cultivate a never-ending connection with God lives in us.

Romans 8:11 tells us, “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.”

Jesus did not have a different Holy Spirit than you do.

The same dove who remained in Jesus lives in children, stay-at-home parents, attorneys, PhD physicists, and adolescents. What does it look like in someone’s life when the reality of Jesus becomes his or her new normal?

When the human soul is planted anywhere other than the presence of God, there is an ever-present sense of disappointment.

We were fashioned by and for God to receive a spiritual inheritance in Christ.

This is why people who know the gospel and yet do not commit wholeheartedly to pursue Him wake up each and every day thinking that something is missing from their life.

To stop moving forward in the kingdom of God is to move backward.

Choosing humility, when our pride emerges, keeps our attention on the God-adventure just ahead.

Responding in prayer and laying down our burden, before anxiety convinces us otherwise, provides forward motion.

Living a life of generosity and selflessness, regardless of the state of the economy, allows the kingdom of God to define our response to the unknown.

The kingdom is not stagnant and it does not stay still. The Kingdom only advances.

 

Heath Adamson (PhD, University of London) is the author of Grace in the Valley and The Sacred Chase. His life was changed dramatically when, at the age of seventeen, he was rescued out of a life steeped in drug abuse and the occult. Now a sought-after speaker at conferences, seminars, universities, and churches, Adamson seeks to bring audiences from simply knowing information about God to actually experiencing God in life-changing ways. 

There is nothing more important in this life or the one to come than an intimate connection with Jesus. Unfortunately, we have thousands of voices distracting us, and all too often we listen to them. We confuse proximity to God with intimacy with God and are content with a Christian-branded life yet miss out on what we were created for: knowing God intimately.

Sharing the touching story of a demon-possessed man who had every reason to run the other way when he encountered Jesus, In The Sacred Chase, Heath shows us how spiritual hunger can overcome our hopelessness, our shame, and our excuses. He encourages us to pursue God regardless of where we’ve been or where we are, seeing our salvation as a doorway. Once we walk through it, we can discover the love of God in a tangible way.

The Sacred Chase is for anyone who longs for a deeper connection to God, who has felt far from peace and hope, and who needs the assurance that God is both interested in who they are and accepts them.

[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]