It was the L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz that taught us for our journey, we would need courage, wisdom and heart. The Tin Man declared, "I shall take the heart. For brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world." It was the same Tin Man who later in the story said, "Now I know I've got a heart because it is breaking." C.S Lewis reminds us of the necessity of a heart in order to love:
"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" (The Four Loves).
I remember the first time I heard this idea of "your heart is central; the redeemed heart is good." The need to get my heart back didn't line up with my inherited theology. All that I had heard growing up pushed back, raised its dukes and reacted: "My heart is wicked" (Gen. 6:5, Jer. 17:9). It is one of the most diabolical accomplishments of our enemy: turn us all into Tin Men attempting to do life without a heart. Satan teaches us to believe in our hearts that we are the problem, that we are wicked, and we will live that way.
We are the ones Jesus left the right hand of the Father to rescue and redeem. We are the glorious ones who bear God's image, "infected," yes, but glorious. As in all epic stories, the hero of the story has come to free those oppressed, the hearts under the influence of evil. Remember, evil comes to steal, kill and destroy and at the center of their mission, the target of their assault: the human heart. They know better than we do how this all works. The last thing they want is for us to get a new heart, a redeemed heart, a renovated and restored core in which to receive love and become fully alive. They know how sons and daughters of the kingdom are made. All hell breaks loose to prevent a man or woman from growing into who they truly are, experiencing life and love and then offering life and love to the world around them.
Friend, you don't have to try to matter. You matter. Your heart matters. It is the treasure of the kingdom.
Not only is the heart central, but the heart can be good. Jesus taught, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bears what is good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bears what is evil. For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). He also said, "But the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
Jesus doesn't say, "Love the Lord your God with all your wicked heart" (Luke 10:27, Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30) or, "For where your treasure is, there your wicked heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21).
No, Jesus understands the significance of the heart and is coming after your heart. Yes the heart can be hard, assaulted, used, wicked and wounded. But Jesus came to change all that. He wants your heart so you can experience: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8) and enjoy God from a whole heart. Paul shared with his friend and apprentice Timothy, "So flee youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22).
What!? The heart can be pure? Apparently it can. The heart God moves into, takes up residence, is the new "holy of holies." How can that be wicked? It is the territory God not only occupies but is also going to lovingly renovate and redecorate. The Trinity is both jealous and fierce in its care and will continue a good work, transforming us from the inside out.
The enemy has long prevailed in twisting both the definition and importance of the heart and sold us a sinister lie. Could the redeemed heart be good?
If it is true—it changes everything.
For more of this teaching, listen to this episode of the Exploring More podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network.
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