Intimacy or Authority?

After reading the passage in 2 Kings 4 (8-36) I’ve been thinking a lot about the issue of intimacy (click here for video). We talk about intimacy with God now, it’s become acceptable to use this language in church and there’s an understanding that Song of Songs and the books of Ruth and also Esther are dealing with the Bridegroom paradigm. Perhaps a better way of putting that is – for the most part, in the churches I’ve grown up in, there’s an understanding that Jesus is the Bridegroom and we as the church are the ‘bride of Christ’.  But this passage in 2 Kings brings all of this into focus and presents a real challenge. As I was reading this, the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to my heart that I feel this is an important message for all of us in this season and as we press into the next.

What is the next season and where are we now? I think this passage might answer that question. Without covering all of the background, the passage has to do with the Shunamite woman’s son. The Shunamite woman built a room for Elisha and almost as recompense, Elisha asked what she wanted and eventually he prophesied to her about having a son. Within the year, she’d had a son but this son died suddenly. The Shunamite woman laid the boys corpse on Elisha’s guest bed and left her house to go to Elisha.

It’s in the exchange and the way that Elisha deals with the Shunamite woman that I believe revelation is hidden. Elisha has two different reactions to the situation, the first is symptomatic of where the church has been. His first reaction is to use authority and by saying this I’m not suggesting there isn’t authority in the church – there is – but it’s not necessarily to be exercised in the way Elisha tried to. Elisha tells his servant to take his staff and run on ahead. So the servant, whose name is Gehazi, takes Elisha’s staff and runs on to the Shunamite woman’s house. Now we need to catch this, Elisha deals with the woman’s problem by sending an emblem of his authority. He sends Gehazi and his staff, a delegation or a representation of his anointing and of his office and authority. The text is so starkly clear about the results of this – it say’s Gehazi laid the staff on the boy’s face and ‘nothing happened’. Operating out of cold authority and of lifeless symbolism and representation will always lead to ‘nothing happening’. Maybe Elisha’s heart was in the right place but maybe it wasn’t – maybe he thought ‘well I can just send my staff – I’m that annointed that I don’t even have to get up and go – I’ll just issue a decree and send my authority’. But nothing happened. The passage also explains that the mother pleaded with Elisha and that he ‘got up and followed her’. There was some reluctance in Elisha and what was called for in this situation was to walk with a grieving woman and actually visit her home. Sending ‘the staff’ simply wouldn’t cut it. But what would – what was the answer?

Elisha arrives at the house and finds the boy just as the mother explained, he’s lifeless and lying dead on the couch. So the prophet goes into the room, alone, staring at a lifeless corpse. He’s looking at the thing he prophesied into existence and it’s dead, the boy has died. How many of us have been in that situation – the promise that once was seems to be dead? However, we know this isn’t the end of the story but Elisha has to enter into a new mode to see breakthrough. So he stretches himself out on top of the boy, face to face, hand to hand and breathes on him. As he stretched himself out, the boy’s body grows warm – but still no life. So Elisha paces up and down for a while and then goes back a second time. He stretches out again and this time – the boy comes back to life. It seems to me that intimacy broke the spirit of death when authority didn’t. What does that mean? I think it means that the church that wants to walk in resurrection power has to walk in real intimacy with God. A spirit of authoritarianism didn’t bring life to the boy – my title, my office, my ministry, my authority – is not the way the Father works. Resurrection life comes only through a heart pursuing intimacy.

Where are we now? I wonder if we’re in between the first and second ‘stretching’. In fact, I wonder if the church right now is pacing up and down, just before the resurrection life manifests. We know, I think, that it’s not about authority, we understand, I hope, that we have to walk in intimacy. Maybe, like that boy, we’re getting warmer, we’ve tasted of something and entered into some level of intimacy but the real breakthrough is waiting for us in that second season. It’s waiting for those who may pace up and down for a while, but will press into deeper intimacy and see the reality of resurrection power in the body. Intimacy is the key to walking in the supernatural and its an invitation from the Bridegroom King as we enter the next season. A heart of intimacy will always birth the miraculous and this, by the grace of God, is where we’re heading.