There is so much good about any emphasis the Church puts on discipleship. We pray, fast, and study the Bible better than any other generation. We have as our pastors and teachers men and women equipped in our seminaries in Greek and Hebrew, educated in counseling and Church growth. We are doing missions with the best of them.
But there is something amiss. I believe we have misplaced intimacy. Our worship services seem mechanical. We are no longer in a wild love affair with the One who really matters. We no longer just spontaneously think of Him, crying out for His mercy and love.
It could be that the evangelical Church in America has passed its expiration date. We have grown confused, and have struggled with an emptiness that is at the core of a legalistic and a works dominated life. We do not cry out with a passionate love for Him who desperately wants to hold us close.
The Book of Song of Solomon is the love story between a shepherdess and her beloved. This love is a love that envelops and controls a person’s entire being. Her love is intense as well as thirsty. She needs her shepherd. There is an element of being ‘lovesick’ and never settling for a second best relationship with her beloved.
Biblical discipleship must always be intimacy with Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes about his deep concern for that particular Church,
2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. 3 But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”
There is jealousy involved here (which is suspect by us) and a foolishness (which is embarrassing) and is emotional. This passage suggests a higher and purer following of Jesus that Satan wants to corrupt. Paul was concerned that these Corinthians would not be a pure bride. He got jealous over their vulnerability. He believed that they would miss the bridal love that they possessed.
I want to challenge you to keep the innocence of your relationship with Jesus. Guard it and refuse to be led away from its simple devotion. Love with a white hot love. Learn the language of romance again and remember that your discipleship is not an end in itself. Biblical discipleship is intimacy with Jesus. We must settle on this in our hearts. The true foundation of discipleship can only be a kind of ‘first love’.
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
- Jesus, Romancer of the Church (brokenbelievers.com)
- We Are Only Radical Together (brokenbelievers.com)