READ: Song of Solomon 1, John 8, James 2


For the most part we are satisfied with surface intimacies. Pure, deep, unadulterated intimacy is rare–even in Christian marriage. Song of Solomon unsettles us, for it unashamedly calls for the rawest intimacy with no less than God Himself. The poetic sexual imagery in the book is disturbing not because it is graphic, but because it calls us to intimacy with very God of very God. We are to be drawn away into the King’s chambers (Song. 1:4). In palaces and in fields, by day or by night, we are to engage in a passionate love affair with God. It seems scandalous because it is scandalous. Intimacy with God is not scandalous because it is perverted (the emotional and physical love affair of the book is a metaphor); it is scandalous because there is the unbridgeable distance of worth between God and man. We are not worthy to be intimate with God and we know it.

Many followers of Jesus take comfort in the fringe intimacy of being on the outer edge of the love of God. I have long had a picture of this settled satisfaction. I picture a great throng in heaven gathered around the hot brilliance of Jesus. This crowd extends as far as the eye can see, contained in a domed building of immeasurable size. I sit just outside the building on the doorstep. My heart is burning with the presence of Jesus. I weep, I cry, I am satisfied to sit on the outer fringe, for I can feel the love of God and I am content. It is enough for me to sit there quietly, feeding off the love God has for me and others, waiting for an order, eager to run at the command of God.

This fringe intimacy may satisfy me, but it does not satisfy Jesus. Jesus wants me closer and He asks that I walk towards Him. But strangely, I don’t want to. I am comfortable with my surface intimacy. To walk towards Jesus is to walk towards that searing, brilliant center. To walk towards Jesus burns. The level of intimacy Jesus desires and demands is uncomfortable to me. It hurts. It is too raw, too close, and I fight it. I sense my unworthiness. I sense the vast unbridgeable gap between my worth and God’s. It seems inappropriate that I be drawn close, as if some great law of eternity is being violated. I cannot handle further intimacy, it is beyond my capacity, and I feel as if my heart would burst. Intimacy is supposed to feel good, not to cause discomfort. I know that Jesus loves me. Why can’t I just linger on the outer edges of His presence, saved, content, and comfortable? I almost feel annoyed that Jesus wants to draw me past my comfort zone to the fiery center of His love, of Himself. This then is the wonder and glad terror of heaven. God giving Himself to us in ways we cannot comprehend or even desire, overwhelming us and burning into us. Sanctification is a process of earth that burns the sin out of us. Glorification is the eternal process of heaven that burns Jesus into us.

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