“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.” (Psalm 139:1, NRSV)
I remember signing up for my first email account in the 1990s. It was an America Online (AOL) account that I accessed through the noisy modem that connected me to the Internet via the telephone line in my house—long-distance charges and all! I remember my first pager that the church secretary would use to alert me to call back into the office when I was away. I remember my first cell phone (a Motorola bag phone) and my first social media account (My Space). All of these technological developments were designed to help people connect more—and to make the developers wealthy—but we were sold the idea that we would be more intimately connected to other people both close at hand and around the world.
It was a promise that appealed to our innate need for social connection. In some limited respects, the technology has delivered in allowing us to connect with more people; however, by connecting with more people, we have sacrificed the deeper levels of engagement with a smaller circle of friends. That sacrifice comes at a cost to an even deeper need than social connection, that is, our desire to be known by an “other.” It is not enough for us to have interactions with hundreds or thousands of persons. We need to know and to be fully known by a few other people who are close enough to see beyond our defenses and delusions, our foibles and our foolishness, our shadows and our fears, and to love us, nonetheless. A million “likes” on Facebook can’t compare to a trusted friend who knows what we’re feeling, even before we do, and who can help us to understand ourselves better.
This need to be known is rooted in our creation. The Bible teaches that God is love (1 John 4:16), and out of God’s desire to share his essence (his love), God created humanity so that we might be recipients of God’s perfect love. God desires for us to love him in return, so God gave us the freedom to choose to love him or not—for if we didn’t have a choice, it wouldn’t be love. God risked us not loving him in return by giving us free will.
Over the next four weeks, I’ll be preaching a series on “Intimacy with God,” where we will explore the breadth and depth of what is possible in our relationship with God. This week I’ll begin with “Created for Intimacy” where I’ll further develop how intimacy with God is built into our DNA. I hope to see you in worship this Sunday!