Daily Encouragement: Year 2, Day 86

From Handbook to God’s Promises 


Balancing Intimacy
(Galatians 4:9)

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “intimate strangers.” This term is used to describe people in modern relationships who have great potential for intimacy but are characterized by emotional distance. We often work with people we “know,” but whom we don’t really know. And even in seemingly productive marriages, spouses sometimes wonder why true intimacy is missing. The two dimensions of intimacy—knowing and being known—must be in balance. When they are out of balance, even married couples can become intimate strangers.

The Israelites and their idols were intimate strangers. In Isaiah 44:6–23, God spoke eloquently about the one-sidedness of idolatry. To be sure, the Israelites knew their idols well. They shaped the molds, cast the metal, pounded them and shaped them in the blacksmith’s coals. They gave all their physical strength to the point of exhaustion in creating their idols. And the carpenters toiled no less devotedly, cutting down cedars, cypress, and oak. Measurements, cuttings, refinements; saws, chisels, compasses—serious skill and expense were invested in crafting idols with which to carry on a relationship. All the while, the contradiction was lost on the idolater: Just because I carve a face on a piece of wood or stone, does that mean that it can know me?

When the idol was erected, the worshiper knew it intimately—every inch of it. But how much of the worshiper did the idol know? None—not an inch. The idolater and the idol were intimate strangers. After all the work, the heart of the idolater still cried out to be known.

The futility of idolatry, like the shallowness of many human relationships, is brought into full illumination by the apostle Paul’s words. Perfect intimacy is possible only when we worship the true God, because both dimensions of intimacy are present: We know Him and He knows us. Regardless of the degree of intimacy in our earthly relationships, our relationship with God should never leave us feeling like intimate strangers. Let knowing God, and being known by Him, become the model for all of your relationships.

God’s Promise:
He is committed to an eternally intimate relationship with you.