Just as gold and silver can easily become tarnished, so our love for God and for other people can become tarnished. The church in Ephesus was hard-working and zealous but was chastised by Jesus for forsaking its first love (Rev 2:2-5). We have to be careful to maintain our intimacy with God and not allow the ‘little foxes‘ to ruin the vineyard (see Song of Songs 2:15).
Barriers to intimacy include a misuse of time, busyness, wrong priorities, mistrust and familiarity. When we first fall in love, we make time for the one we love, but so often, busyness creeps into our lives, communication becomes functional and informational rather than relational and we allow our focus to wander, setting wrong priorities. Jesus reminded us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33) rather than to spend all our time and energies on the pursuit of things. Trust is fundamental to all relationships, for if we are fearful and suspicious of the other’s intentions and love, we will hold back. Prov 3:5 reminds us to trust God with all our hearts; He is not after an arm’s length relationship!
Familiarity breeds contempt, the proverb says, and we have to be careful to value those we love and not become indifferent to them. If we truly want to maintain intimacy with God, we must:
- give Him the firstfruits of our time (see Ps 5:3, Ps 141:2)
- guard against over-busyness, learning to say ‘no’ to the good in order to say ‘yes’ to the best
- make God and people a priority over things and activities that do not have eternal value (see Ps 127, Matt 6:25-34)
- learn to trust God and rely on Him wholly (recognising that intimacy means vulnerability, but we serve a wounded Saviour who knows what it is to be hurt and betrayed, but who still forgives and urges us to love even our enemies)
- allow wonder, awe and gratitude to shape our lives so that familiarity does not breed contempt
Our relationship with God is based on the covenant He has made with us (see Jer 31:32-33). A covenant is a promise made between two parties, reflecting a relationship of love. That is the kind of relationship we have with God which He wants to fuel every day. Let’s allow God to lead us to His banqueting hall and let His banner over us be love. (Song of Songs 2:4) His food will nourish us; His words will captivate us; He will be ‘altogether lovely’ to us (Song of Songs 5:16) and we will then ‘spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.’ (2 Cor 2:14)