The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 11/18

Posted on | November 18, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 11/18

Scripture reading: Hebrews 10:24–25

Close Encounters

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up.” (Ephesians 4:15)

 

Never in human history has communication been easier, quicker and more accessible. We have email, Facebook, cell phones, Skype, texting and Twitter to name just a few. And yet never has a generation of people felt more isolated and disconnected. We talk more and communicate less than anyone in history!

Ever since God told Adam it was not good to be alone (Genesis 2:18), we have struggled to understand our desperate need for intimate relationships—not just to cure our loneliness but to make possible our spiritual growth. When we connect horizontally in healthy ways, we are then able to grow vertically in our relationship with God. Perhaps no one in church history grasped the significance of this principle better than John Wesley.

“Holy solitaries” is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social: no holiness but social holiness. (“Preface to the 1738 Hymnbook.” Works).

This explains why Wesley insisted that new converts join a small group. Here they could build intimate relationships with other believers and experience what he called “close conversations.” Knowing well the human tendency to prattle and babble about inconsequential matters, Wesley outlined a method for helping small groups talk about things that matter most. He insisted that early Methodists, when meeting in small groups, speak “freely and plainly the true state of our souls, with the faults we have committed in thought, word, or deed, and the temptations we have felt, since our last meeting” (“Rules of the Band Societies.” Works) Wesley discovered that one hour of such “close conversation” often had a more profound spiritual impact on a believer’s life than ten years of public preaching!

Such candor in conversation is difficult to find in groups today, though Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous have worked hard to move in this direction. What a tragedy that the church of Jesus Christ is often the place where we wear masks and pretend rather than have the courage to open up with one another about what is really going on in our lives. Such transparency can feel terrifying to someone who has never known genuine love in authentic community, and yet this is precisely the kind of relationships we long to have!

In Wesley’s small groups, every attender was asked four questions every week:

 

  1. What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
  2. What temptations have you met with?
  3. How were you delivered?
  4. What have you thought, said, or done, of which you doubt whether it be sin or not?

 

So, the next time you are with a small group of Christian friends, why not experiment with Wesley’s questions and discover for yourself what he meant by “close conversations.” There is no better path to spiritual maturity.

 

Most church members live so far below the standard, you would have to

backslide to be in fellowship with them. —Vance  Havner

 

 

point to ponder Why is it that we both crave intimacy and fear it at the same time?

 

prayer focus Opportunities for transparency and honesty with one or two trusted friends.

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