Heart

I have been thinking about what to write (more like typing and backspacing) for hours, sporadically and to no avail. There is actually a lot going through my mind. So I have finally come to the conclusion that this post may not sound as organized as some, but that's alright, because blogging is not about formality, it's about honesty. And to be honest, I feel inadequate, small, and not worth very much. I'll just say that God sometimes convicts my feet straight out from under me so that I fall, without any hope (or pride, therefore) in my own strength . . .

Bible study is often the most humbling two hours of my week, and last night was definitely an evening of conviction. I have never been a very outgoing person, especially when it comes to group discussions, and last night - though I felt God has been teaching me so much in the past few weeks as I've read 1 Peter (our current study) and that my relationship with Him has really deepened - I didn't say anything. Sometimes it was because someone else mentioned basically the same thing I was thinking, but mostly it was because the discussions seemed so deep compared to anything I'd been (or was) thinking. Maybe it was pride - the fear of saying something obvious or superficial - that kept me silent; maybe it was the fact that I was realizing my relationship with Christ was not resulting in obedience, that I wasn't really "work[ing] out [my] salvation with fear and trembling". Sure, I was spending more time with God, reading the Bible and praying, but, while I was feeling proud of myself for that, I was not being a "doer". I'm not trying to minimize how important spending time with God is, but I think what should naturally follow is obedience to Christ, and He said "go, and make disciples".

Our Pastor asked about opportunities to share the gospel that we'd had lately.

And God added, "In your perfect, exclusive little world of church and Godly people, are you finding opportunities?"

. . . Or am I making excuses, content to stay comfortable, convincing myself that feeling close to God is satisfactory?

Last night, one of the sections we were studying was 1 Peter 3:8-9:
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous, not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
I did have quite a bit written down in my study book about each of these "admonitions" (from a few weeks ago), so I will mention some of my thoughts on the admonitions themselves. "...having compassion for one another" - genuinely caring about how someone is really doing, and going out of your way to care, love, and help; "...love as brothers" - even if you don't "like" a person, because everyone's family, not because you might get something in return; "...be tenderhearted" - (definition: "quick to feel compassion") not calloused to suffering, but easily moved to care about it; "...be courteous" - gracious, kind, accepting, impartial.

I struggle with most of these areas. Maybe that factors into my ability to hang back and let the world coast by on its way to Hell, without a second thought, without much feeling at all. I know I'm not an emotional person, but it's too cold-hearted for comfort to realize that I'm not even affected by the thought of someone separated from God for eternity, not saddened when I walk through the grocery store past a hundred people who may not be saved. I really hate that. I hate that I can write "not calloused to suffering, but easily moved to care about it" without it being anything more than ink on paper.

Today I overheard my Mom reading aloud a chapter from her current book ("The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips" by John Dickson), and was floored:
In passing, it is worth reflecting on our own attitude toward the "crowds" living in ignorance or defiance of the Shepherd - that blasphemous colleague at work, the materialist down the road, the cynical relative or friend... ...[W]e would do well to recall Matthew's summation of Jesus' emotional response to the unbelieving masses [Mt. 9:35-10:5]. Following Jesus in his mission must at least mean sharing some of his compassion.
The Greek word for "compassion" that Matthew uses is splanchnizomai, the verb form of "internal organs". Jesus was deeply, inwardly moved (it was "heart wrenching") by the "sheep without a shepherd".

I am not deeply, inwardly moved. But I want to be.

As it says in 1 Peter 3:8, we are to "be of one mind". In the context of the verse, it is referring to believers corporately, but the greater meaning, in my opinion, is that the "one mind" we - thousands of diverse believers - seek to attain is the mind of Christ. And to have the mind of Christ means we also ought to have His heart: His love and compassion for "sheep without a shepherd". Genuine tenderheartedness towards others will, I think, result in a genuine desire to reach the lost for Christ, to "go, and make disciples".

I do not yet grasp what it means to have the mind and heart of Christ. But I want to.

I want to be "not calloused to suffering, but easily moved to care about it". I want to genuinely care about others and, naturally, whether or not they know Jesus. I want to intentionally find opportunities to show compassion for others, to be tenderhearted, and to share the hope that I have in Christ, my Savior and Shepherd.

But I cannot . . . not of my own strength, because I'm inadequate, and not of my own motivation, because I am incapable. I feel small, weak. Because I am.

But Christ can. Because He is adequate (all-powerful), and He is capable (compassionate and loving).

So, Father, stand me upright once again, but with my feet on the Firm Foundation. Let me learn what it means to have the mind of Christ and also to have His heart, to be compassionate, tenderhearted, and loving.
Give me Your eyes for just one second,
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing.
Give me Your love for humanity.

Give me Your arms for the broken hearted,
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see.
~Brandon Heath, "Give Me Your Eyes"

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