The paradox of intimacy – the only path to receiving

By Dave Henning / January 1, 2018

“This is what we can learn from Dorcas . . . the paradox of intimacy.  If I aim at getting love, I will neither give it or receive it.  If I aim at giving love, I will find the gift of receiving it thrown in (emphasis author’s).”- John Ortberg

“Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.  She was full of good works and acts of charity.”- Acts 9:36 (ESV)

As John Ortberg concludes Chapter 13 of I’d Like You More . . . , he discusses a familiar saying of Jesus.  In Acts 20:35, Paul reminds the Ephesians elders that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  When it comes to love, Pastor Ortberg stresses, giving = the only path to receiving.

Therefore, John adds, we gather as the church not for our own sakes, but to rest, recharge, and get nourished.  We gather so that “we can go into the world and be the church.”  In other words, church isn’t a building we go to.  Rather, we are the church – out there, outimacy.

However, Pastor Ortberg cautions, as the church we need to show awareness of koinonitus.  John defines koinonitus as “fellowship turned in on itself; cliques and enclaves and tight-knit groups that become little cul-de-sacs of relationship.”

Thus, the author likens a church suffering from koinonitus to the salty-enough-to-float-on Dead Sea.  Instead, John urges us to desire a church like the life-giving Sea of Galilee.  As Pastor Ortberg summarizes:

“Remember, intimacy without outimacy leads to stagnation and death.  Once you have experiences true intimacy, it is your great commission to share it with others.  To help others experience love, joy, acceptance, and belonging.”

Today’s question: How has the paradox of intimacy worked in your life’s calling?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Incarnation and intimacy”

About the author

Dave Henning

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