Small Group Questions

Fear Of Intimacy

Introduction:
Intimacy is a scary concept for a lot of people. If I mention that I am speaking on the subject of intimacy, people tend to visibly tense up. They may even blush wondering what I am going to talk about. Why is it that we all hunger for intimacy and yet fear it at the same time? Fear is what is robbing you of intimacy with God. Fear of intimacy is one of the biggest obstacles that must be faced within our relationships. Closely linked to its sister, “fear of rejection,” it can result in failed relationships. This message deals with the role of intimacy in strong, healthy relationships.

Bottom line: You were created for intimacy.

Something To Talk About:

Why do we fear intimacy? Why is it that we long to be loved by others but we fear getting too close?  Why does the fear of intimacy make us distant and unavailable? A lack of intimacy can keep us and others in our lives at arm’s length. It can also keep God at arm’s length. Our fear of intimacy can cause us to keep people at, what we would call, a safe distance away. Consider the following ideas when looking at and evaluating the intimacy in your life:

  1. You must take a prayerful, relational risk for an intimate relational return: Rollo May once said that “Intimacy requires courage because risk is inescapable.” Certainly there is risk because we don’t know how the relationship will play out. Most of us have been hurt in some way and being vulnerable again feels too dangerous. Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, it can make you wonder if intimacy is worth the risk involved. But the only way to keep ourselves from being hurt would be to close ourselves behind thick walls in our own private solitary confinement, with no connection to the outside world. But would you want that kind of life? C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” Intimacy is a risk. But it’s a risk worth taking. You experience the fullness and meaning of love when you prayerfully take risks in hopes of a return on that risk in the relationship.
  2. Before you risk, you must find security, acceptance and intimacy in Christ: Risk out of a position of strength with security, acceptance and intimacy in Christ. Becoming secure in the Lord is a process of learning to rely more and more on the love and grace of God in our lives.  Knowing in our heads that God loves us is one thing, but relying on that love is another. According to 1 John 4:16 we must do both. “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love…” Being secure means that our identity and confidence comes from Him and not our own abilities. One question that every believer must settle as soon as possible is, does God fully accept me? The short answer is this: every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ. “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1). We find security, acceptance, and intimacy in Christ. We risk out of that strength. We take risks with a foundation in Jesus. 1 Corinthians 3”11 says, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have–Jesus Christ.” If you don’t accept yourself, find security in Christ, find intimacy in Christ, you cannot find intimacy with one another, or in your relationships.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is your most important human relationship (marriage, parent/child, friendship, etc.)? What do you treasure most about this relationship? How do you nurture this relationship?
  2. Think of a very close relationship you have with someone else (spouse, sibling, parent, child or friend). How did that relationship begin? How did it build and over what time period? What caused your relationship to become intimate and personal?
  3. Now think of what your life would be like if you hadn’t had that kind of relationship with that person. What would the void be in your life? What would you have missed out on?
  4. What does a life of intimate relationship with God look like? Spend a few minutes thinking about your relationship with Jesus. Reflect on Psalm 139 and Philippians 3:8. What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Is it more about facts and rules than an intimate, personal relationship?
  5. Discuss briefly the clash between ‘intimacy’ with God and the ‘intimacy’ as culture defines it in our present day and age. How is true intimacy with God fostered?
  6. Intimacy is a risk. But it’s a risk worth taking. You can only experience the fullness and meaning of love when you take the risk of moving closer. Agree or disagree and why?
  7. What might you be missing out on in your relationship with Jesus? What needs to change in order for you to have a more intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

Take One Thing Home with You:

Relationships are key to our well-being, as we build them, delight in them, and find comfort and encouragement from the people we are in relationship with. Our relationships with others help in forming our days, our activities, our thoughts, and bring fullness to our life.  God cares about how we relate with one another. The Bible is full of practical and insightful wisdom when it comes to relationships. However, just as in practically every other thing, sin has corrupted the design. We relate with sinners, in fact every relationship we have is with a sinner. While that let’s no one off the hook, it should make us all a little more patient and full of grace towards each other. Not only does God provide us with wisdom to navigate relationships, but He provides the power and transformation to all believers in Jesus. Real intimacy in our relationships starts with intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can give us the security, acceptance and power to heal and grow our connections with each other.