Welcome to the Patchwork Blog! I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts about life, Jesus and the freedom he offers.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Barriers to intimacy with God

477x477-blue dribble prodigalThis post is a follow on from my post called Drinking from the Well of Living Water, a couple of weeks ago and is based on a sermon I preached at Coastlands Church on Sunday 25th May 2014. We have been in thinking in our church a lot about what it means to drink from the well of Living Water, about  how we can deepen our relationship with Jesus and with God as Father. This is a subject dear to my heart as seeking that deeper intimacy with Father God is what set me free from food addiction. It was seeking Him alone, and putting everything else to one side that led me to experience the healing from my addiction.
In my chats with people leading up to my sermon last week I began to ask myself what are the barriers to intimacy with God. These thoughts are the start of my thinking in this area. I started by reading about the woman at the well from John 4:1-26 ( Clicking that link will take you to the Biblegateway site where you can read the relevant passage.)
Looking at my own life I saw 3 areas of my life that were barriers to intimacy with God, two of which I see in the woman at the well’s story too.

The barrier of our beliefs
False beliefs about ourselves
The Samaritan woman came to the well when others were not around. Most women would have come earlier in the day. She was hiding from others. I was also hiding. I was hiding from God. When I was ashamed about my faults, my addictive overeating and my other many sins, I tended to take a step away from Him. Why did I do this? Was I scared?
I think I was fearful of being told off by God, of Him being harsh with me. Deep down, I wrongly thought I had to earn the right to have that deep intimate relationship with Him. Oh, I knew the truth on the surface of my thinking, but the more honest I was with what I was really thinking deep down, the more I realised I was hiding from Him in shame at my sin. This is the opposite of what the Gospel tells us to do.

False beliefs about God
As a Samaritan the woman at the well had slightly ‘wrong’ theology. Samaritans were Jews, who some generations before, had intermarried with gentiles and over the years had started changing their beliefs away from true Judaism. Jesus challenged her about her beliefs in John 4:21-24.
What about our theology, our own beliefs about God? What I said I believed with my mouth, and on the surface of my mind was so different from what I really thought deep down. Deep down there was something else going on.
Not only did I think I had to earn the right to have intimacy with Father but I also didn’t really know that He truly loved me.I understood it as a concept but not as a deep life-affirming, life-changing truth.
Do we know He loves us no matter what? Do we truly know the depth of His love for us. He sent His Son to die for us. That is how much He loves us.

The barrier of our sin
Sin is a barrier between God and us. Jesus challenged the woman at the well very gently about her sin. He was not harsh or judgemental with her. She acknowledged it to Him, so it was no longer a barrier.
1 John 1:9-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”
Christ we share 17When God challenges us on our behaviour and our sin, it isn't because He wants to be harsh with us. It is because He wants us to draw closer to Him. He loves us and wants us close to Him.
This goes back to how we see ourselves, what we believe about ourselves. Do we think we are not good enough for intimacy with God? If so we have not truly grasped the truth of the Gospel at a deeper heart level. Jesus died to save us from our sin. He has already died, and risen again to life. His resurrection is the proof that God accepted his sacrifice for our sin. Our sin is no longer a problem if we confess it and take it to God.

Sin is only a barrier to intimacy with God if we don’t acknowledge or confess it

Satan is a barrier
Satan does not want you to be close to God and will distract you in any way he can. He will lie, cheat and deceive in any way he can to stop you truly believing the truth of the Gospel.

1 Peter 5:6-9So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honour. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
The devil knows your weak areas and will exploit them to get you away from God. But God has already defeated the devil through the cross of Christ.
I have found that looking to God is the best way to resist the devil. If I try to fight sin and satan in my own strength I often fail. The best way for me is to turn to God and come to him in honesty. To say “Lord, I am weak, I am tempted. Please help me”. I look into His face of love and find strength. When I think I have to beat the sin before looking at Jesus I am much more likely to fail as I am trying to do it in my own strength.
If we come to Father God in honesty about who we are, we will find His love welcoming us. He loves us and longs to show us His love.
1 John 4:18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
He doesn't want to punish us. He already did that to Jesus. He wants to love us, to remove our sin and cleanse us. Trust Him. He loves you so much.

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