The Gospel and Vertical and Horizontal Intimacy

I have written other similar topics about this:

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

Martin Luther lived a life of attempted Holiness as a Monk. He worked at trying to be the best man of God he could. However, he always disapointed himself in falling short of the yardstick scripture asked of him. His mountain top experience came when he read Romans 1:17 “For in the Gospel a righteousness is revealed and it is a righteousness that is by faith [In Christ] from first to last”. For the first time Martin Luther had a joy in serving God as he realized this righteousness is something freely given to him by what happened on the Cross. Basically, He found an intimacy with God through Christ. He now was able to serve God in  joy and happiness rather than in fear of his shortcomings and insecurities.

This intimacy the Gospel gives us has implications in both our vertical relationship with God and in our horizontal relationships with other Men. The focus of this discussion is the implications the Gospel has with other people.

“Without the gospel, your self-image is based upon living up to some standards–whether yours or someone’s imposed upon you. If you live up to those standards, you will be confident but not humble. If you don’t live up to them, you will be humble but not confident. Only in the gospel can you be both enormously bold and utterly sensitive and humble. For you are both perfect and a sinner!” — Quote from Tim Keller. Without the Gospel message deeper intimacy with God and others is impossible as we look at life and scripture in our own idolatrous way of getting life.

The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, “You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,” will you be able to be honest with yourself.

If we have lived a life based on the “externals” where performance and morality are the number one focus in your life then you are living a life of shallow intimacy. On the other hand, if you have lived a life of sharing your deeper emotions and vulnerabilities then you can begin the path to greater intimacy in your life. “Real” obedience is only possible with deeper intimacy and “real” gospel repentance is only possible with this deeper intimacy.

Its my belief that a person that has sinned against a spouse or friend in a severe way has the opportunity to regain a greater intimacy than before the transgression took place if we can keep the Gospel message squarely in our sights. This is possible because now we have an opportunity to replace shallow, performance based intimacy with a deeper Gospel oriented intimacy. This idea very easy to say but very hard to do in practicality. Therefore we need to continously re-remind each other of the Gospel message to keep this kind of thinkology alive in our lives.

It also takes two sides having the same vision of the Gospel message to make this work in a marriage.

I do NOT see this as a romantic intimacy. I see this as a relational, emotional, spiritual, trust oriented intimacy that is much deeper than a Romantic intimacy.

With this type of deeper intimacy comes real trust as well. As people we tend to see trust as if you do this behavior then I trust and if you do that behavior then I distrust you. However, gospel trust, begins with an understanding that we are more sinful than we cared to ever admit. If we actually believe that then intimacy is really about sharing our emotional frailty as humans. if we can share this frailty on a deeply emotional level than we can develop a trust much deeper than the one based on performance and the right behavior. This vulnerable openness is the beginning of a “trust” relationship with God and the people around us. It is the starting point of our sanctification.

Nobody changes bad habits and addictive behavior  by trying.  What we need is an overmastering positive passion — thats what throws out fears.  What we need is expulsive replacement rejoicing of Jesus Christ and Gods plan for intimacy for us in the face of our idols.

In Christ,

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3 thoughts on “The Gospel and Vertical and Horizontal Intimacy

  1. theoldadam

    Jon,

    Some excellent thoughts there, Jon.

    I do try and apply (although I don’t even really have to think about it much) a gospel based paradigm over my realtionships with people. My wife and I are both very forgiving of eah other. I would hate to think of our life together without that. We are still a couple of sinners. Sinners that love each other…thank God!

    I really do think that repentance and forgiveness is the key to intimacy.

    Thanks Jon!

    – Steve

  2. theoldadam

    “This intimacy of showing the true me is something I also need to keep in the foreground of my brain — its just too easy to just look good and leave that idea alone.”

    Right! That is where good law and gospel preaching is so important.. The law will keep your feet on the ground and your head out of the clouds… and the gospel will free you to be you..and to also free you to forgive others. (least ways it does me)

    Thanks Jon.

    – Steve

  3. Elizabeth Chapin

    Great thoughts on intimacy here! Thanks for suggesting I take a visit to your blog. I love how you say, The gospel gives you psychological freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, “You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,” will you be able to be honest with yourself.

    Applying the gospel to the whole of life is some of the wisest counsel around and may keep some of us out of more serious counseling sessions (that cost LOTS of money) if we had such wise counsel within the context of our communities of faith and didn’t have to look elsewhere for such helpful advice.

    Just curious, how did you find my blog?

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