Most Sundays after church, my father invited us kids to critique his sermon. He disliked “Atta-boys” and he loathed a “Nice job!” He loved to observe how we thought and what we saw.
He delighted—really delighted—when we said things like:
- I think your illustration of the boy on a bike didn’t explain predestination well;
- I wonder if your second point should have come first, and your third point eliminated;
- I think the best part of your sermon was the final, “Amen.”
His partly wanted to ensure we listened to his sermons, sure; but even more, he genuinely wanted to engage with us at a heart level by hearing what we thought. Dad encouraged honesty and offered no repercussions when we criticized, disagreed, or misunderstood.
It was my dad’s way of inviting us up into his life.
As a boy, I enjoyed it when my dad got on the floor and helped me with my erector set; but even more, I loved it when he invited me to help him fix the kitchen faucet or asked me to help him find an illustration for his upcoming sermon.
He didn’t need me so much as he valued me. He just loved my company.
There is a broad misconception of Christianity today. We think it involves making a decision for Christ. While that decision represents a leaf in the process, it misses the meaning of the forest:
Christianity is not so much us inviting God into our lives as it is God inviting us into his life.
The nature of deep relationships is the personal revelation of our secrets. God invites us up into his life when he says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing, but I now call you friends.”
Paul says it this way, “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
So … What Does This All Mean?
When we think of the Holy Spirit, we tend to think of the spectacular: healing the blind and raising the dead. But the Holy Spirit means intimacy with God. It’s more personal than showy (though I’m wide open to God performing spiritual liposuction on my expanding belly).
Intimacy with God means his Spirit lives in us; he values us so much, he makes us his home. Intimacy means he reveals his secrets to us in prayer times—yes!—but also all day long:
- We are about to say something to a friend, and his Spirit gives us the tiniest of nudges to close our mouth.
- Circumstances around us shake like the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and the Spirit of God gives us the famous calm-before-the storm. Except it’s in the storm.
- We read a passage we know like our favorite arm chair (The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want), and God’s Spirit surprisingly rearranges the deepest desires of our hearts.
Intimacy with God is his invitation to let his Spirit live in us. Suddenly the secrets of Jesus, the power of his Spirit, and the love of the Father rush upon us. His secret is his value of us.
Oswald Chambers describes a friend like this,
What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you.
The secret joy of the Father is to invite us up into his life, and to let his life revolutionize ours.
God himself longs for us to grow in intimacy with him; and the greatest way to know God is to learn to hear his voice. Buy Now