Part II: Whole Hearts Are What God Uses to Change the World
In my last article, we looked at how ‘loving our neighbor as ourselves’ requires a heavenly perspective on self-love—if we hope to love said neighbors well. We learned that it isn’t some cardinal sin to put ministry on the backburner during seasons of rest and healing, but that in order to make healthy disciples we need to create a church culture that values whole hearts over a more statistical approach to a checklist of achievements. Proverbs teaches: “Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the issues of life.”
That said, if we’re the world-changing, Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians I expect we are, we still have a godly desire (and responsibility) to see heaven come to earth in a tangible way. We want our lives to count. The disconnect occurs when we can’t see how taking the time to recalibrate our hearts to a standard of rest and wholeness, as need arises, makes that happen. But having a healthy heart is a mark of sons and daughters, and all creation cries out for those.
Below are a few practical reasons that ministering out of a well-kept heart is actually the best way to see heaven manifest in our daily lives—and most effectively ‘re-present’ Christ to the world around us!
Maintaining a whole heart forces a lifestyle dependent on the Holy Spirit. Throughout this process of inner healing, which is integral to our sanctification as believers, it is not our job to go digging for hidden sins or wounds or unmet needs. Jesus taught that when Holy Spirit came, He would guide us into all truth. A guide is someone you follow, not lead. Our role in the matter is to practice sensitivity to Holy Spirit so that when He does bring a shadowy area of our heart to the light, we can recognize His voice and confront the problem head on.
Attuning our spiritual ears to His voice regarding the truth He wants to speak to our own hearts not only positions us to more readily receive healing, it develops in us a more intimate relationship with God. And it is only out of intimacy with our Creator that we can hear His voice regarding the truth He wants to speak to the rest of creation.
Jesus did it. Jesus was fully God and fully man. One of the unique aspects of His dual nature was that while He had all the emotions and frailties of the human condition, He never let them master Him. As He traveled across Israel preaching and teaching and healing the sick, anytime He felt the needs of the masses, or even His few, come into conflict with His relationship with the Father, Jesus quietly stole away to some desolate place to recharge His spiritual batteries—sometimes for days on end.
Its funny how we feel the need to push through whatever happens in our lives and jump right back into the fray, but during two of the most difficult moments in His life—immediately after the temptation in the wilderness and the night before His crucifixion—Our Perfect Example took all the time He needed to get His heart prepared before stepping back on the field. You know, with the whole being ministered to by angels and midnight vigil thing.
All we have to offer the world is what’s inside of us. As I mentioned earlier, Proverbs teaches us to guard our hearts above all else, because out of it flows all the issues of life. Another translation says that the state of our heart actually “determines the course” of everything we do. If we operate from a place of brokenness in any area of our lives—marriage, finances, disciple making—how can we expect to produce something in that area that imitates the unbroken nature of heaven?
If we don’t make space for Holy Spirit to heal our hurts as they arise, we often push them off until we burnout or fall into sin. Neither of those help advance the Gospel. But if we do make space for God to work, we can be confident that we are giving our best when ministering to others because we are receiving the very comfort, truth, and love we so passionately want to share with others. And we’re getting it straight from our Father, because we’re worth it, too.
These are just some of the ways that keeping a whole heart impacts our ability to present a better image of Jesus to the world around us. Dependency on Holy Spirit branches out from us ministering to ourselves to us ministering to others. Imitating Jesus in choosing rest over works preserves the integrity of our relationship with the Father, which in turn increases our awareness of what He is doing in the lives of those we encounter. And receiving healing from our Father when we need it equips us to meet the needs of other out of the overflow of what we’re already experiencing. Taken together, these practices enable us to join John the Beloved and invite others into deeper fellowship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, out of what we ourselves have seen and heard.
Hopefully, you find this helpful in your own journey of becoming more like Jesus. I pray that maintaining a whole heart would become a value you embrace and see the fruit of. We have been tasked with a mission to restore a lost and broken world to its rightful place in the Father’s arms, but we cannot give away what we do not have.
David Wade writes fiction, nonfiction, and hip hop from his dining room table in Grove City, PA. He lives with his wife, Candise, and studies English Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. For occasional information, follow him on Twitter @davidwadetv
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