As children of God, as the Bride of Christ, as His very own Body and as Friends of the King of kings, we are privileged to enjoy a special intimacy with God… unlike His enemies or mockers.
Jesus said that when we believe and obey, showing our love to Him, He and His Father will love us and come and make their home with us (John 14:23)… Does this mean we were not loved before? Does this mean He loves us, because we first loved Him?
No way! For the Bible says that we are only able to love God, because He first loved us and revealed His great love to us through Jesus Christ (1 John 4:19). What Jesus was talking about, when speaking to His disciples, is that they will enjoy intimacy with God, if they respond in love and obedience, to the love He first gave them, by laying down His life for them. Intimacy is conditional, God’s love is not.
I think we should all be able to understand the difference between intimacy and love. We are intimate to varying degrees with our close friends and family… but even more intimate with our spouse, through the act of love-making. This is something reserved for the person who has ALSO pledged their love and faithfulness to us, and not to any other. That’s why we can and will experience a deeper love with Christ, as His Bride. A love the world doesn’t understand.
Likewise, as the Family of God, we share (or should share) an intimacy with each other that the world cannot understand. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t love those outside the Church, but we cannot be intimate with them, the way we are called be intimate with the Body of Christ. Such love is basically like loving one’s own body, it should be instinctive!
We are called into fellowship that we may grow in love and unity and bear fruit that will convict the world of evil. But if we shun intimacy with our Family in preference for fellowship with the world, we work against God in His righteous plan of salvation (Jam 4:4). We do not show that we understand God’s love for them at all.
Therefore, intimacy requires a difference in treatment… We still extend unconditional love to those who are apart from God, though they may be friendly or hateful, just like God loves us despite ourselves. But unconditional and universal love doesn’t mean equal treatment. Love acts with wisdom, and so differential treatment (experienced by intimacy or lack of, discipline or judgment) is seen by a God who loves all the world, but is intimate with a chosen few.
You too can enjoy intimacy with God. Jesus promises to come and make His abode with you too, if you will respond in love and obedience, and follow after Him today.