Second-hand smoke

cigarette-300x224It is quite possible to know a lot about God and very little of God.

Sometimes I ask questions I should not ask. Especially with married couples. The mild version of the conversation usually starts with, “Do you still kiss?” I remember being at a conference where I met a cheerful and outgoing couple, when the question popped out of my mouth. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but on this occasion the raw approach blew up in my face. The couple squirmed, closed their mouths, looked at each other, then looked right back at me with a sadness you could cut with a knife. Their silence said it all. No. We do not kiss. We are not intimate. We are not happy.

Ever notice how the Bible describes the intimacy between and man and a woman? “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…” (Genesis 4:1) Something deep within us longs to be known.


Marriage is not just about marriage. The apostle Paul lifts the veil on the subject: “This mystery is profound, but I’m saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) It’s not like God needed an object lesson to illustrate our relationship with him so he settled for marriage. Marriage was created as a sign of the gospel.

Which brings us back to the problem with so much Christianity. It’s like a travel agent selling time shares for a property she’s never seen. Or a vegan waiter pushing pork chops he’s never tasted. The pictures look good and the food smells great, but the experience is second-hand. Far too much of our Christianity is like second-hand smoke.

I spoke with a man last week who came away from a debate with a Christian group. He could not out-talk the Christians. He did not out-think the Christians. And yet, as I debriefed with him after his encounter, he ended with these words: “I just don’t want to be like them.” They did not smell like Jesus.

Ever notice you start to smell like the people you spend time with?

This is a call to reclaim intimacy. Look at what David wrote: “The intimate friendship of the Lord is reserved for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14) His response? “My eyes are ever towards the Lord.” (25:15)

Far too many believers are bored with their relationship with God. Like spiritual pornographers, they attend religious gatherings to watch other people encounter God, while they themselves are lifeless and dull. Wearied by the “duties” associated with “serving” God.

Maybe the accusation is true. Perhaps the faith of too many Christians is only inferential; it is the result of deductions. You can have right theology and to do right mission and to live a right life and tell your friends all the right facts about God, and yet know very little of God.

I can promise you this. There’s more.

Stop treating the Bible like a brochure to a land you’ll visit when you die.

And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God…” (John 17:3)

Maybe the gospel is better than an invitation to go to heaven when you die. Of course that’s true. But, if you have ears to hear, you can start going to heaven before you die. Don’t let this day end before you encounter the living God.

Published by Mike Patz

Question isn't merely, Will I go to heaven when I die? but, Will heaven come to earth while I live?

6 thoughts on “Second-hand smoke

  1. I smoked for 35 years……the 2nd hand smoke affected everyone that came within 10 feet of me, my children, our clothes, our home, car, etc. The fragrance alone was horrible and it attached itself to everyone who was near me………it was killing my life and the ones I loved as well via 2nd hand…….NOW thanks to GOD….I smoke only on the word of God daily with intimacy with Him. It also has affected everything and everyone around me……..BUT, I agree with Pastor Mike totally………why desire or just settle for a 2nd hand encounter or relationship when God offers a 1st hand experiential relationship with Him in intimacy, love of our Savior Jesus Christ, divine appointments, comfort, wisdom, peace, joy, patience, revelation, the Holy Spirit, I could go on and on ……..about this special relationship!!! I love His fragrance upon me and especially the no comfort zone lifestyle He has truly given me. A new life-giving relationship with a sweet fragrant aroma…..that all who come near can smell….I just hope they are enticed so much and are drawn to Him for themselves than just through me….via 2nd hand. I encourage all to go direct one on one with the LORD!!!

  2. Thank you for the above thoughts. It is where I am now and growing! Here and now we can have a different kind of oneness. Continually talking, questioning, sharing, listening, loving deeply, trusting, giving… Two days ago I gave HIM permission to use me that day, I surrendered my day. I’m still shaking my head with laughter how HE did just that. (a story for another time) HIS oneness with me is amazing! Let’s go deeper Lord. Living with you here is becoming true love for me. Thank you Father!!! xoxo

  3. Wow! Spiritual pornographers! Good description of those who are content to watch others be intimate with God. Every form of pornography is bad because steals the life out of you and doesn’t give anything back but emptiness, guilt, and aching.

  4. It’s TRUE – Go for it… Oh, I’m running to your arms, I’m running to your arms, The riches of your love will always be enough, Nothing compares to your embrace, Light of the world forever reign!

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