Something we should know and understand is that we are created for an intimate relationship – with God and with one another. There is a hunger deep in our souls for an intimate relationship with God. There is also a hunger for intimate relationships with other human beings.
1. Intimacy with God.
You and I are created for an intimate relationship with God. It is personal: ‘The Lord our God’ (v.9). Yet intimacy with God is not to be taken for granted. God is mighty, holy and just. That’s just it🙇🏽
‘The Lord reigns… he sits enthroned between the cherubim’ (v.1). The cherubim are the symbol of God’s holiness (see Genesis 3:24, Ezekiel 1:4,10:1). It means God’s throne is pictured, ‘between the two cherubim’ (Numbers 7:89). This is the place from which God speaks.
This psalm emphasises the holiness of God. The word ‘holy’ (Psalm 99:3) emphasises the distance between God and human beings. God is not only mighty and holy, he is also just: ‘He loves justice’ (v.4). The appropriate response is to ‘worship at his footstool’ (v.5).
Somehow, this gulf between God and us has been bridged. We know now that this is through Jesus and what he did for us by the cross and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This psalm anticipates the intimacy with this God of power, holiness and justice made possible through Christ.
God ‘spoke to them’ (v.7). He spoke to Moses and Aaron and Samuel (v.6). He spoke to individuals. He speaks to us individually. ‘They prayed to God and he answered them’ (v.6, MSG).
Not only is he a God of justice, he is a God of mercy and forgiveness – ‘a forgiving God’ (v.8). He is ‘our God’ (vv.8–9).
‘The majesty is undiminished, but the last word is now given to intimacy.’ Derek Kidner
1 Corinthians 12:1-26
2. Intimacy with one another.
There is so much loneliness in our society. Many, especially young people today, have nowhere to process their pain. They turn to alcohol, drugs, promiscuity or some other way in an attempt to deal with their pain. The elderly are also often marginalised, isolated and alone.
You and I are not meant to live alone. God created us for a community – a community as close and as interdependent as the various parts of the human body. Paul develops the analogy of the church being like the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has given different gifts to every member of the church (vv.1–11).
‘The body is a unit’ but ‘it is made up of many parts’ (v.12). People come into the church from all different backgrounds, nationalities and positions in society – ‘Jews or Greeks, slave or free’ (v.13b). Yet regardless of where we have come from, ‘Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – his Spirit – where we all come to drink’ (v.13, MSG).
We now belong to one another. Our relationships are as intimate as the different parts of a body. We are utterly dependent on each other (vv.12–13).
The more different we are, the more we need each other. The eye needs a hand more than it needs lots of other eyes (vv.16–17). Variety is essential (v.17b). This is true not just of the local church but of the global church. We should not look at the different parts of the body of Christ and say, ‘They are different, there must be something wrong with them.’ Rather, we should say, ‘They are different, we really need them.’
It is time to drop the labels – describing ourselves or others as a particular type of Christian. ‘The old labels we once used to identify ourselves… are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive’ (v.13, MSG).
God has designed the body so that there will be this mutual dependence. ‘I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of’ (vv.19–20, MSG).
We particularly need the parts that ‘seem to be weaker’ (v.22). Our internal organs ‘seem to be weaker’ in the sense of being more vulnerable. That is why they need protection. However, they are ‘indispensable’ (v.22). Likewise, those parts of the body that are ‘unpresentable’ are treated with ‘special modesty’ (v.23). No one would suggest that these parts are not important. Indeed, they are vital.
Because we need each other so much there should be ‘equal concern for each other’ (v.25). There should be such intimacy and love that ‘if one part suffers, every part suffers with it’ (v.26a). This is the community we need where people can process their pain. It is also a place where people can share their joys: ‘If one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it’ (v.26b).
An intimate relationship with God is when we realize that the abundant life we are looking for will never be found in a person but God.