Intimacy is the great cry of our generation. We are inundated with technology before and behind us. There are monitors in front of our eyes, plugs in our ears, and touchscreens at our fingertips. We can’t move without Uber; we can’t wait for Uber without Tweeting; we can’t eat without Yelping; we can’t work without Slacking; we can’t date without Tindering; we can’t listen in without Periscoping out; we just can’t anymore. What was supposed to help us has made us less.
All the while, our humanity cries for intimacy. We are trying to supplant our physical need for intimacy with internet pornography, our social needs with “social” media, and our intellectual needs with streaming entertainment. We prefer to be sexual monists, one-sided conservationists, and brainless consumers of moving pixels. While waiting for humanity to harness technology to create a luxurious future of androids, it is technology that has harnessed humanity sterilizing us into a generation of androids (and iOSs).
No, this is not a clarion call for neo-Luddism. This is a yearning for our humanity in midst of this technology. Humanity is not found in bettering ourselves to the next stage of evolution. Humanity is not found in economic prosperity or political freedom. Humanity is not found even within, in the exploration of emotion, consciousness, and imagination. Our humanity is found in the intimacy we have been crying and searching for the entire time: God.
It’s not in food, though food is delicious. It’s not in sex, though sex is good. It’s not in the number of friends or the number of “deep” conversations with friends. It’s not found in technology. It’s not even in the Christian humanistic values of passion and purpose. Ultimately, food is digested, sex ends, friends die, passion putters, purpose is fulfilled, and technology gets updated (remember Friendster?).
Beyond Our Image
Genesis 1:26–28 describes our human nature being modeled after the image of God. Within this image, we are given authority, purpose, sexual gender, relationship, consciousness, value—our humanity. Whatever He is, we are. This mimicry of God, or reflection, is the true fulfillment of our humanity, and it satisfies the cry for intimacy. This infinite potential is our destiny.
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”*
Where do we get this craving fulfilled? Is there an app for that? Is there a shortcut, a bitly link, a Wikipedia entry, a tweet that can succinctly provide this? No. Our impatience and instant microwave culture buck against this. Ironically, it is this unsatisfaction that satisfies and satisfaction that dissatisfies.
Beyond Our Time
The God of time uses time to convey Himself. The God of time uses time to fulfill our need for intimacy. The God of time uses time to make us more human. In other words, sit back; it takes time. And this is the greatest fault of technology—its abhorrence of time. Technology’s obsession with efficiency and hatred for “time-consuming” time erodes us away like a flesh-eating bacteria. Infinite abysses can only be filled by infinite objects in infinite time.
Beyond Our Intimacy
Jesus read hearts. This is how He dealt with those trying to trap, persecute, attack, and even kill Him. This is how He dealt with those who loved, adored, and followed Him. This is how He dealt with those who were curious, distant, and mystified by Him. Yet all were sinners. And to them, He revealed their motives. He revealed hypocrisy, innate and obvious. He revealed the discrepancy of exterior words and expressions with the inner emotional motives.
He still reads hearts today. As we read Scripture, Jesus—the Living Word and the Written Word alike—reads our hearts. The Holy Spirit searches our hearts like a powerful Google engine with spiritual algorithms. We have the option to reject the results from the search. But they do show up every morning in devotional time.
It reveals motives.
It reveals inconsistencies and hypocrisy.
It reveals the discrepancies.
It reads hearts.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12, NKJV).
This is the Written Word and the Living Word. This is the intimacy we need. To change. To be like Jesus.
The world has a false intimacy, a sensual intimacy that purports that it is about raw unfiltered emotion. It is an ecstasy that has all hormonal cylinders on in full throttle. It is a maximal experience that verges on burning out the senses. This is often called a divine experience and some try to mimic it for worship. It is loud, it is powerful, it is roaring. It feels good. But it is not good, based on morality or innate characteristic of humanity; it is a momentary, fleeting, effervescent feeling.
Sometimes social experiences are like this: relationships, pets, sexuality. . . Sometimes aesthetic experiences are like this: music, art, film. . . Sometimes intellectual experiences are like this: philosophy, theology, academia. . .
But what intimacy with Jesus is, is a still, small voice that comes from the reading, hearing, studying, and speaking of the Word. That reading of the heart is Jesus reading your heart. And what that calls for is a response. For this Wondrous Being of the Universe breaks any stereotype of some impersonal, timeless entity, and becomes a personal, intimate, exclusively one-on-one Friend with you . . . that elicits an intimate cry of, “Yes, Lord.”
(Originally posted in CQ’s Synapse Blog)
* Blaise Pascal, Pensées, trans. A. J. Krailsheimer (London: Penguin, 1993), p. 45.