Intimacy with Christ Your Spouse, and Others Via the Gospel of Christ

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.

The idea of being Gospel centric means seeing everything through the eyes of Jesus Christ and the purpose of his sacrifice on the Cross.

With that introduction here is something I wrote a while back that is so near and dear to me that I need to share it again.   The words reflect a lot of years of struggling with my own sin.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweetspot of Gods word. The sweet spot to me is the Gospel message. Without keeping the Gospel clearly in our sites it becomes possible to eventually use scripture to hurt others as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

I want to expand on some personal reasons why I believe we as Christians need to “Keep the main thing the main thing” and continually press the gospel message about Christ into each other. We need to continuously re-remind each other of the Gospel message. Martin Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f) The gospel might be easy to understand, but it in practice it is very difficult to apply. As a result we must meditate on it continuously and make the Cross central to our understanding of scripture.

What I have seen [and participated in] is that as sinners we can twist anything and everything, including scripture, in idolotrous ways and suck life out of it for ourselves. People can spend years in Bible Study and still not be closer to Christ and understand the Gospel message any better than they did previously. As sinners we can use scripture to destory as much as build up.

Without the Gospel true intimacy to God, Christ, and each other is impossible. We can not achieve the intimate relationships we were designed by God to have without the Gospel message. Without the gospel, we will feel the need to portray some level of worthiness or holiness around each other. We can’t discuss our true limitations, our shortcomings, our sins as we put on a “mask” of obedience or attempted obedience on. True obedience comes from a real understanding or our sin and an intimacy and vulnerability that only comes from needing a Savior. Without this ground leveling concept of mans total depravity we just CANT achieve intimacy with God, our spouses, or other sinners.

Also, if we find our self-worth in external behaviors, we eventually lose the boldness and braveness to reach out to each other and to take risks emotionally with each other in loving ways as our spouse and friends eventually see through the masks of artificiality we put on each morning. We will portray our relationships, kids, etc as more perfect than they really are and build up a net of lies to each other. Real “gospel” transformation without intimacy and trust is impossible and eventually becomes focused on external results and behavior only.

The “Problem is not the problem”. We all have different histories, insecurities, and emotions. We have not walked in each others shoes. We sin “yes”, we are selfish yes. But we yearn for a close, intimate, trust with Christ and each other. IF we focus on the externals, “the problem”, without transparently sharing our emotions, aspirations we will ultimately destroy what we once had. If we share our intimate issues and especially our feelings and emotions in a tranparent, real way with other men and with our spouses and if our spouse can not focus on the externals then the problem is not quite as daunting. Eventually a deeper, more intimate trust than the “external behavior” based trust is built. Hopefully this trust will last forever. All of this is built on the idea that the external behavior is not the problem. If fact, focusing on the externals gets IN THE WAY of true intimacy, it gets in the way of resolving sin since its not getting to the “HEART” of where the real problem lies. IF we focus on the externals then we are doomed to a pattern of judgement, hypocrisy, and pharisiism (yes the pharisee that lives in all of us). We learn to not share our feelings since we CANT really share them without being condemned by the other person. Intimacy and trust will always be ultimately destroyed in a world focussed on externals.

True intimacy does not put on a face or our “Sunday best” and it attempts to have an intimate inner relationship as opposed to focusing on externals. It comes with heartfelt communication. Quite often people or spouses have beaten the ability of their partner or friend to confess their weaknesses to each other out of them as we attempt to speak to them in Christian-ese. We become too impatient to allow Gods life changing relationship through Jesus Christ transform us from the inside out. Instead we try to transform each other from the outside in. In doing so intimacy and trust in our relationship is damaged and broken and it becomes almost impossible to reclaim as we persist in this superficial area for too long. We lose the capacity for intimacy quite often as we attempt to grow as a Christian when we focus on external moral behavior. 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 {and maybe the ending} point of our sanctification. A much deeper intimacy with each other comes after we have fallen and after we realize how great our need is for a savior and how great our need is for transparent, real, emotional and spiritual intimacy. Intimacy lives in a freedom to express yourself in God pleasing ways and NOT in a fear of not having the correct performance.

The problem we have as Christians is we try to make obedience the main product of the Christian walk. It is not the product of the Christian walk it is a by-product of the Christian walk. In my real life experiences (long story here) I believe Christians who lead or EASILY throw out the words “obedience” and “truth” do not fully grasp the Gospel message. They tend to be highly insecure and very unsure of their relationship with Christ and the the people around them. The focus they have on externals will eventually destroy (or at best only maintain) the relationship they have with others. They will never get to real “intimacy” in Christ or the people around them. I dont say this in a judging way, I say this in a way that I hope causes people reading this to reflect on the purpose and core of why they desire to be a Christian.

What many people don’t understand is that talking about obedience does not make us more obedient. In order to be obedient we need to understand our absolute sinfulness, be vulnerable about sin, and then strive to accurately assess our environment so we can remove sin. We need to engage in this activity in Spirit-led way where we share our thoughts to other men and our spouses in a vulnerable way. Men if you want to blow the socks off your wife then start developing an emotional, vulnerable connection with her. Dont just share facts and dont just try to look spiritual in some impressive way… be vulnerable about your emotions and feelings. Engage in emotional and spiritual intimacy with your spouse.

A continual re-discovery of the gospel in our Christian walk is absolutely necessary for intimacy and transparency with Christ and transparency and intimacy with Christ is necessary for real transformation. A continual re-discovery of the gospel in our Christian walk is absolutely necessary for intimacy and transparency with each other and transparency and intimacy with each other is necessary for real transformed relationships.

Martin Luther once said “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. ………… rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.” [Letter 99.13, To Philipp Melanchthon, 1 August 1521.]

Jesus said “But go and learn what this means, I desire mercy not sacrifice”

Vulnerability about our emotions and sins is the pathway of mercy in the Christian walk Lets be on the pathway of mercy so we can strive towards obedience. The pathway of mercy leads to intimacy with Christ and Intimacy with Christ galvenizes and energizes lasting kingdom building service.

We will never hunger for Christs beauty until we have seen the filth of our own vain efforts to make ourselves beautiful.

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