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(c) james hopkins

In my circles we have a general aversion to anything that sounds like an overstatement of our intimacy with God. We hate what we refer to as “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs. We cringe when people say, “On the cross, the only thing Jesus was thinking about was you.” And there is something right about that reaction.

My guess is this deep-seated antagonism toward divine intimacy probably stems from multiple sources: a reaction against non-theological, non-truth-based emotionalism; a quest to re-emphasise the majesty and transcendence and God-ness of God in the face of pressure to have a less-than-sovereign God having come through a century of horrendous suffering; and a reaction to a self-help, self-esteem gospel where the emphasis was placed on the cross as a monument to how precious I am to God that he would go to such lengths for me.

And there is something good about wanting to push against some of those excesses and capitulations. But there is a baby in that bath water.

We are adopted sons and daughters who cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15)

God is the high and holy one, but he is also the one who lives with the contrite and lowly in spirit. (Isaiah 57:15)

And the cross is a display of just how great God’s love for us is. (Romans 5:8) 

And so Knox is helpful in articulating and re-establishing some theological grounds for such claims of extravagant intimacy:

“The infinite power and the infinite mind of God […] mean that he is able to give full attention, care and protection to every person throughout the world with the same intensity of concern that he would give if he were related to a single individual only. The infinity of God is not overwhelmed by numbers, nor stupefied by detail. God is able to comprehend, and provide for at the same time, the needs of the whole of his creation. Our heavenly Father gives each of us his undivided attention and his full friendship as though we were his only friend.”

Broughton Knox, The Everlasting God, p, 35-36