Focus 2 (of 4)-Revisioning Intimacy

Focus 1|Revisioning Intimacy

Intimacy is sharing. Whatever parts of yourself you have accepted and owned, you can share. Whatever you haven’t, you can’t.
Consider this ice breaker question to get started.
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Let’s talk about those who know you.
Listen to this audio clip when you’re ready to begin today’s Spotlight.

(And welcome, by the way! It’s great that you’re here!)
Don’t be afraid of self-intimacy.
The idea of self-anything may give you pause. You might be thinking of Bible verses like these:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3:1–5

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

These are good warnings, and what they really warn you against is self-worship, which is an easy mistake to make (especially in selfie-culture.)

On the other hand (or, apparently, hands) don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is no room for loving oneself in God’s kingdom. A good version of self-love has a place in God’s word and world. You don’t need to look any further than Jesus’ instruction about the two great commandments to see that this is true:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:28–31

Did you notice how you’re supposed to love your neighbor? As yourself.

Healthy self-intimacy that leads to appropriate self-love isn’t just good for you. It’s good for those around you.
Welcome Perspective
Intimacy means knowing someone more deeply, including yourself.
Speak these words (out loud) whenever you see them on this page.

Let’s internalize this.

A look inward leads to (but can’t really answer) the question “Why me?”
  • Why do I exist?
  • Why am I this way?
  • Why am I not better?
  • Why do I get what I get?
  • Why me?

A look inward will reveal a self that is broken—which leads to the kind of honesty that is sometimes called “confession”—but a look inward will fail to reveal to a person that God loves them.

At the same time, if you never look inward, if you never see your own brokenness, then you never realize how much you need outside help.

Listen to this song and explore its lyrics and scripture.
This is poetically explored in both the song “Inner Peace” and in Romans 7. While you listen to the song, explore its lyrics and the scripture passage below the video.

Let’s make it personal.

What should be said of the kind of person who simply accepts it as a fact when she is told that she needs God—without doing an honest, intimate exploration of herself? Is it possible to skip the hard questions of introspection, such as…
  • Why do I exist?
  • Why am I this way?
  • Why am I not better?
  • Why do I get what I get?
  • Why me?

On one hand, it’s not as if introspection earns God’s love for you. Self-intimacy doesn’t save you from sin. Only forgiveness through Jesus can do that, and it’s free with no strings attached.

However, God isn’t just interested in forgiving your sins. God wants intimacy with you - and since your sin gets in the way, he removes it. God wants deep connection with you, and even though he knows everything about you, he grants you the autonomy to share what of yourself you would like to share.

You cannot share what you do not have. Learning to possess your inner self (learning to be self-intimate) gives you more of yourself to share with the God who wants to take perfect care of it. That’s the prayer in these verses:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:16–21
Pray along with the song “Feel Again” as it asks God to not only remove the numbness and blindness caused as sin separates you from God, others, and your very self, but also asks God to thelp you feel, see, and know God, others, and yourself again.
One more time, like you mean it…

It’s like light coming through a window.

In Proverbs 20:27, God is light. It’s good when the light can reach your inmost being—that’s the only way anyone, including yourself, will come to see and understand what is there. The “human spirit” is like a lens or a window. If it’s positioned toward the light, light comes through and lights up the room. If it isn’t, no light.

True introspection and healthy self-intimacy seek not only the self but also the one who made it. It does this in order to ask God what he hoped for while he made you.

True introspection and healthy self-intimacy bring a lot of hope and excitement to a sometimes complicated question like…
  • Why do I exist?
  • Why am I this way?
  • Why am I not better?
  • Why do I get what I get?
  • Why me?

Ask those questions of a loving God, and you can feel like Mary (Jesus’ mother.)

Mary is one of the best introspectors in the Bible. After Jesus was born, Luke records that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Right after she found out she was going to be the mother of the savior of the universe, she spoke these astounding words that show both a healthy understanding of self and condemn those who don’t have such an understanding.

Say them with her:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Luke 1:46–55
Worship Perspective
Self-intimacy leads one to value the self and the God who loves it.
Sort the good self-_____ from the bad.
If the goal is healthy self-intimacy, which of these are helpful, which are unhelpful, and which can be both?

Drag and drop the various “self” items/terms in the list below to sort them.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Luke 6:42

Share with your group:
  • Which of the “unhelpfuls” in the list above is easiest for you to fall into?
  • Which of the “helpfuls” is easiest for you to make good use of?
Grab your selfie camera (or a mirror.)
Most people don’t leave enough space in their lives for spending time with themselves, so let’s take some now.

Either turn your camera on facing you or stand in front of a mirror—either way, prepare to be looking at yourself for these two two-minute exercises.

Before starting the first two minutes on the timer, reread the verses about the plank:

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:42

After the time is up, each group member should share:
a “plank” that they have or have had trouble removing.
Here’s another timer and a question to consider during your second two minutes:
“What about myself (past/personality/vices/gifts/etc.) have I not explored, and why?”
Reflect on the tension of being human.
Any honest introspection reveals the tension of being a human being on earth.

On the one hand, God is kind. He loves you unconditionally and accepts you no matter what. On the other hand, you could be better, and you know it. Living in this tension is a skill, and it takes practice.

John reflects on this in the words below. As you read, notice how much of the paragraph depends on the idea of being “in”—it’s intimacy everywhere.

This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
1 John 3:19–24

Listen to this song and follow along with the lyrics.
This tension is beautifully explored in the song “Human” by Becca Jordan, which has a fantastic poetic twist at the end.

Think through this as you listen to the song using the video below—and follow along with the lyrics with the presentation beneath the video.
Learn Perspective
The journey toward self-intimacy is difficult and tense. Don’t go it alone.
Learn to understand those for whom self-intimacy is very difficult.
People who have experienced abuse often struggle to look inward for a number of reasons, and this can make it hard for those who want to love them and care for them to know what to do.

 Freedom for the Captives is a nonprofit organization that helps those whose lives have been affected by abuse—including those who have not personally experienced it.

Watch this video, including a first-hand account of someone affected by childhood abuse and has benefited from the important work Freedom for the Captives is doing in the lives of so many.

Take a look, particularly at the online course they offer, “Standing up for Children: A Christian Response to Child Abuse and Neglect.”

(If anyone in your group is interested in taking this course and needs help signing up, let Illume know. Consider signing up together, with others in your group, so you can share this important knowledge.)
Feel free to submit a prayer request by filling out the below form.
(If you choose to make your request public, you'll see it display in the Current at the end of the Spotlight along with anyone else who did the same.)

Prayer Requests

Pray through your requests—together—as a group.
After submitting your requests in the above form, take some time to share with your group whatever requests the group might have for this week.
Serve Perspective
Improving in self-love should mean learning to love others that much better.
Pray with Mary’s prayer.
Start to close out this Spotlight by praying your own thoughts based on the prayer of Mary that you read in the Welcome section.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Take a moment to reflect on this past week—what were the good moments?
The moments that made your spirit rejoice.
The moments you can thank and praise God for.
The moments God lifted you up.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Praise God for the way he has blessed everyone through Jesus.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

Pray for those who love and serve God around the world;
try to be specific about the names of places and communities.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

Pray for places and people who are under pressure from “proud” opponents at the moment,
those who need God’s help and strength.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

Lord, help us to hang on to these promises in this coming week. Help us to keep in mind your presence with us in every situation. Please nurture in us thankful and appreciative hearts, and help us to keep in mind those who need lifting up, in Jesus name. Amen.
Enjoy the security of self-intimacy.
Those who know themselves can accept what they are… and are not.

Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston sang a powerful (and a little hyperbolic) version of self-confidence in the song “Every Woman”—

Whatever you want, whatever you need,
anything you want done baby, I’ll do it naturally
’cause I'm every woman,
it’s all in me, it’s all in me.

Sara Groves builds the song “Finite” from that idea. In the same way that “Every Woman” was intended to say “Don’t underestimate me,” this song says “Don’t overestimate me” because this is all about accuracy. God wants you to find who you are, and he wants to lead you into seeing that throughout your finite life.

Think through this as you listen to the song using the video below—and follow along with the lyrics with the presentation beneath the video.
Sing along with (or listen to) this song to close out this Spotlight.
Feel free to sing along or simply listen. Do what makes you comfortable—but do whatever helps you focus on the song's meaning best.
Farewell Perspective
God made who you are and shared it with you so you could share with the world.
Let's wrap things up by taking a look at what's Current at Illume.
Tap on the buttons in the frame below to see what’s currently happening at Illume—information on everything from current and upcoming online content to live events and opportunities to serve in the community can all be found here.

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