I have provided some tools that point to intimacy with Jesus. At the same time there is an old Spanish proverb, ‘Talking about bullfighting and being in the ring with the bull are not the same thing.’ If we apply this proverb to intimacy with Jesus we could say that ‘Talking (or my writing) about intimacy with Jesus is not the same thing as being intimate with Jesus.’ In fact Jesus addressed this very thing in the scriptures. A couple of examples are,
21 ”Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them….Matthew 7:21-24a (NKJV)
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NKJV)
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5 (NKJV)
In the Matthew passage Jesus distinguishes between those who do good works from knowing Him and those who act based on knowing about Him (which should really cause us to question the idea WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? When this first became popular many years ago I said it was the wrong question, WWJD presumes He is no longer ‘doing.’ The real question is WIJD, What is Jesus Doing? Followed by, how can I enter into that with Him?).
In the scriptural quote above I deliberately left off the last half of verse 24 to highlight Jesus point, not mine. In the same way, in John 3 Jesus is not simply saying the same thing in different ways when He distinguishes between seeing and entering the kingdom. The Greek word translated as ‘see’ means to see, know, or be aware of. Essentially Jesus is saying that we need to be born again, that is ‘born from above’ to see or know the kingdom of God. What is important here is that when Jesus then talks to Nicodemus about entering the kingdom of God He is not repeating Himself. Jesus says we need to be born again to see or know the kingdom of God but we then also have the option of entering in once we have experienced both a natural birth, being born of water, and spiritual birth, being born from above and receiving Jesus nature in our spirits as they are reborn in His image.
I don’t know how far or deeply most of us enter into His kingdom once we experience the new birth but the invitation is there. We would be wise to reflect on how far we have entered in and anything keeping us from going further. After all, the kingdom, really the king’s domain, exists where the king rules and has authority. Just as we have the possibility of moving deeply into the kingdom we have the possibility of a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus because we can’t have one without the other, both are something we can intentionally pursue and develop.