Spiritual Formation Work Group
(Are You With Me? What Intimacy Is)
“To know and engage with someone intimately is always a crossing of a border, always fraught, even if you've been married fifty years."
The Spiritual Formation Workgroup will begin 22 February 2020 from 10:00 – 11:30 A.M. in the education wing. All are welcome. We will be reading “I'd Like You More If You Were More Like Me, Getting Real About Getting Close” by John Ortberg in 2019. Bring a friend.
Spiritual Formation Work Group
(Are You With Me? What Intimacy Is)
“To know and engage with someone intimately is always a crossing of a border, always fraught even if you’ve been married fifty years.”
The Spiritual Formation Workgroup will begin 22 February 2020 from 10:00 – 11:30 A.M. in the education wing. All are welcome. We will be reading “I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me, Getting Real About Getting Close” by John Ortberg in 2020. Bring a friend.
The word intimacy can make any small group a little uncomfortable. John Ortberg reminds us why intimacy is not something to fear but something to work toward. In his book I’d Like You More if You We’re More Like Me, you’ll see how true closeness with others starts with the most mundane, everyday moments of connection.
I hope to see you all on 22 February, 2020 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am.
Session 1 – Around the Table
(Chapters 1, 2)
Inside every child is an “emotional tank” waiting to be filled with love.
Dr. Ross Campbell
Tables are places where many different people can come together and make connections. It’s where relationships can start, grow, and even sometimes where they end. Life at the table can seem predictable and routine or it can be surprising and unusual.
Whenever people sit and do life together, at some point or another interesting things are bound to happen. And that is just one of the many reasons why some people get uncomfortable at the idea of getting closer to others.
As Ortberg points, “Intimacy is a scary concept for a lot of people.” And whether we call it intimacy or getting closer or making deeper connections, many people will still have some fears about knowing and being known by others.
1. Discuss- What does the image of a family table represent to you?
2. What memorable experiences with people have you had that took place around a table?
3. Who was involved?
4. Where did you sit?
5. What was it about the table that helped those connections happen?
6. What are some of those fears people have about getting close?
7. What fears do you have?
8. Where do these fears come from?
While many of us fear intimacy with others, we wonder even more how in the world we are supposed to achieve intimacy with the almighty. But God has been pursuing an intimate relationship with us from the very beginning. He is the one who designed us to need and want to be with others.
As we consider how we can create deeper connections with other people and with God, it will be helpful to look more closely at what intimacy is and what it isn’t. Ortberg describes these points in detail in his book, but he sums them up pretty well in this statement: Intimacy is not simply a feeling. It’s not a mysterious experience that some people are born for and others are condemned to miss out on. It’s not restricted to certain temperaments, or to married couples, or to ‘feelers’ on the Myers-Briggs continuum. And it’s not something that mystically occurs the moment we say. ‘I do.’”
Intimacy, Ortberg goes on to say, is sharing experiences (page 6)—big ones, little ones, everyday ones. It’s being present with others in those experiences and allowing time for that to happen. In other words, it’s what Jesus did very well. So, if we want to dig into intimacy looks like, we can look at how Jesus interacted with His friends.
Discuss: “Not only do we revel in our experiences, but we also have a deep need to hare them. When we share experiences with other people—the good times, the bad times, and all the mundane in-between times—we’re sharing our lives with them. And that builds connection, which is another essential component of intimacy.”
9. John Ortberg told a story (page 8): “Not long ago at dinner, my body was at the same table as Nancy [my wife], but my attention was on the screen of my cell phone. A few minutes into the meal, I got a text—from Nancy—that read, ‘I’m sitting right here.’ Screens are useful, but they can forget their place. Screens are made for man; man is not made for screens.” (Discuss the implications of this story in your own life).
10. In Mark 8:27-38, we see Jesus having heart-to-heart talks with His disciples about His identity and theirs. What can we learn from those conversations? What does it mean to be close to Jesus? What does it take to follow Him?
11. In Mark 10, we find Jesus confiding in His friends. He reveals a key element of developing intimacy with others and with God. Read verses 35-45. What is supposed to be different about those who know and are known by Jesus?
12. In Mark 14:1-42, we see four moving and slightly awkward portrayals of people demonstrating intimacy with Jesus: the woman with the perfume, Jesus at the Last Supper, Peter with Jesus, and Jesus and His disciples at Gethsemane. What was moving or emotional about these scenes? What was awkward?
13. Contrast the efforts of the woman with the perfume with those of the disciples in the garden. How do their actions demonstrate intimacy and closeness?
Discuss: “Somewhere along the way, in the minds of a lot of people in our culture, the word intimacy got all tangled up with sex. But even though there is a connection between the two words, they are not interchangeable, and one is not necessarily dependent on the other. We don’t need to have sex to be intimate with someone. And we don’t need to be intimate with someone to have sex. In fact, the vast majority of our intimate relationships have absolutely nothing to do with sex. Intimacy also applies to our relationship with our kids, our parents, our friends, our coworkers—and even with God. (page 4).
Discuss: “Time is precious to us because it is such a limited commodity. We can make more money, but we can’t make more time. That’s why giving someone the gift of out time is such an intimate act. It’s something we can never get back.” (page 9).
For three years, Jesus invited His friends to share the experiences of His life. The most common thing they did together was take walks (Mark 1:16-17). They ate together (Matthew 9:10, Luke 22:13). They learned together (Matthew 5:1-2, Luke 24:27). They did favors for each other (John 13:14). They rested together (Mark 6:31). They went for boat rides together (Mark 6:32). They went mountain climbing together (Mark 9:2). They prayed together (Luke 11:1).
Discuss: “The act of ‘being with’ someone requires patience and sacrifice. It means putting the other person’s wants and needs above our own and being willing to invest as much time as it takes to make the person feel valued and loved.” (page 12).
Discuss: “If intimacy is shared experience, then perhaps the ultimate example of an invitation to intimacy is the Incarnation—that mystical, miraculous moment when God chose to become more like us—coming to earth, taking on flesh, and living with all the joys, sorrows, temptations, and triumphs that we do, so that we would better understand how to become mote like us. He could have loved us from a distance. But He wanted to do more than just love us.” (page 18).
(See page XVI) Ortberg points out how God has been pursuing us from the very beginning. He wants to have an intimate relationship with us. Consider the account in Genesis 3:1-10. When the man and woman ate the fruit, they realized they were naked and hid from God in their shame. God came walking in the garden, looking for Adam and Eve. He was searching for them. He wanted to be wih them. So God called out, “Where are you?”
Image for a moment God is walking down your street or down the hallway, just a short distance from where you are sitting right now, and He is calling out to you, “Where are you?”
1. What is your “nakedness”—what are you afraid for God to see?
2. What do you want to hide from God?
(Pages 20-52, Chapter 2)
Ortberg points out several myths about intimacy in his book. One of those is intimacy should be easy.” Though you may have an easy time getting close to some people, that isn’t going to be true for everyone, and maintaining any relationship takes time and work. What’s the state of your relationships right now? Check your intimacy quotient with the following survey.
1. Do you have at least one person on whom you could call in times of personal distress” ___ Yes ___ No
2. Do you have several people with whom you can visit with little advance warning—without apology? ___ Yes ___No
3. Do you have several people with whom you can share recreational activities? ___ Yes ___No
4. Do you have people who will lend you money or care for you in practical ways if the need arises? ___Yes ___No
5. How likely are people to come to you when they need help?
___ Very likely
___ Somewhat likely
___ Not likely
6. Are people willing to be real around you?
___ I think so
___ How would I know?
7. Are you able to have a crucial conversation with your friends about difference of opinion without losing your sense of connectedness?
___ It depends
___ Not really
8. Are you comfortable living in disagreement (not anger) with someone?
___ I’m mostly okay with it
___ No, I hate it!
9. What do you do when a relationship hits a bump in the road?
___ Work through it
___ Keep going without confronting it
___ Abandon the relationship
10. Who might find you t be a difficult person?
11. Are you able to be real around others?
___ Don’t know, haven’t tried it
12. Look back over your answers. How would you describe your experience of intimacy right now in your life?