True intimacy with God is something that has been sought by Christians since Christ walked the earth. It is natural for Christians to long to experience the closeness of an intimate relationship with God. But true intimacy with God is not simply a feeling on a par with a romantic relationship. It goes much deeper than emotion, down to our very souls and reflected by our actions. “For the LORD detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence” (Proverbs 3:32). God cannot have an intimacy with evil or with disobedient Christians. True intimacy with God begins with drawing near to Him.
God will never draw near to those who do not draw near to Him, and the way we “draw near” is through righteousness. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Certainly, God will never draw near in intimacy with the unrighteous, but those who have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and have received His righteousness at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21) have the hope of intimacy with God. In fact, it is only those who have been saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9) who have that hope, because Christ is the hope through which we draw near to God (Hebrews 7:19).
Jesus is, in fact, the model of intimacy with God because He and the Father are one (John 10:30), and no relationship can be closer than that oneness with the Father that Jesus experienced. His relationship with the Father was characterized by love and obedience. In love, Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s will. He did nothing on His own, but in all things did the will of His Father (John 5:30). This was most evident in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. Suffering the agony of anticipating what was to come, Jesus asked that the fate He was about to suffer might be removed from Him, but He ended the plea by saying, “Yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Here we see a perfect example of true intimacy reflected in obedience as Jesus yielded His will to that of His Father.
If we hope to attain true intimacy with God, Jesus must be our model. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:10), and we prove our love for Him by obeying Him. Jesus told His followers, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When we obey Him and keep what He has commanded, He promised that we will remain in His love, just as He remains in the love of the Father by doing the Father’s will (John 15:10). There can only be intimacy with God when we are in good fellowship with Him through obedience. Then we can know the joy and peace that comes from trusting Him and yielding to His will, just as Jesus did.