But First The Heart

I Don’t need God to Run my life.”

It’s an attitude I’ve been running across lately in different places –

Even in the fiction I read for escape.

And I’ve finally figured out what upsets me about it.

 

I’m afraid it’s, as Christians, our fault.

Yes, we do tell people God loves them,

Then we follow up with “and He has a plan for your life.”

To someone who has hit bottom and has lost hope, it’s the way back.

 

But when the first thing we talk about is God’s plan to today’s secular people,

Who are mid-career, somewhat content, and independent, that’s not the reaction you get.

God’s plan becomes a formula to take over our lives, and make us weak dependents

While we, as God followers, insist people should instinctively understand God’s intent.

 

First of all, I think we have created this way of thinking by our

Emphasis on righteous actions,

As actions are the most easiest thing to address.

But before righteous actions make sense, the heart must first love more than self.

 

It even goes deeper than that.

Christ often used the picture of marriage to help us understand this commitment.

We can tell people how to treat each other in a relationship, what it is can look like,

But first the heart must want it.

 

It has been acknowledged feeling love is not enough to sustain long term marriages,

Although we also know the marriage doesn’t have a chance without it.

Such is the relationship with God being built on love extended and received,

Although we know that’s only the beginning.

 

The question becomes how do we talk about Christianity without righteous actions?

After all, that’s how we are known – by our example – how we live.

How  do you make someone want to love God?

How do you change the desires of someone’s heart?

 

However, the language we use sometimes changes the relationship to a club we join:

“If you don’t know God, you can’t experience that life giving/saving presence.”

‘Jesus as the way to God’ may not prompt the ‘exclusiveness’ criticism aimed at Christianity

As much as the arrogance with which we tell people they can’t encounter God any other way.

 

And that makes people push God away further.

We now are in a circular discussion about

God’s love and mercy and his requirements for salvation.

I sigh and sometimes think we need new language.

 

What if today’s fascination with earth religions, mythology, magic, fantasy, spirits and ghosts

Reflects our search for God gone wrong?

Man’s way of explaining what they don’t understand?

People say the search is for ‘spiritualism’ and God is but one of the answers.

 

And when we dismiss their culture as silly,

We get the same sort of response ending with – they cannot believe in a controlling God

Who sends missionaries out around the world to make “little Christians” of everyone,

Telling the whole world “You’re doing it all wrong!”

(I didn’t make this up….I was confronted with this .)

 

Some of the people I’ve encountered say they can believe in God as a Being,

But cannot accept the arrogance with which we insist God’s people have found THE ANSWER.

They can no longer the accept the ‘special people of God’ language

Because that means those who ‘don’t belong” are to be pitied, cajoled, and pleaded with to believe.

 

Truth and God’s Way is what it’s always been, but somehow it’s being taken out of context.

Some think God is a unseen judge who squishes belief into us from somewhere above.

Perhaps our strategy of Christian behavior without speaking to the heart backfired.

And some see us as a conservative political movement at worse, and a code of ethics at best.

 

We realize it is a relationship – a mixture of things that ends in togetherness, not control:

Love, trust, faithfulness, hope, joy, release of self-interest, and finally righteous living.

Yet, evidently, what our world see is loss of control and responsibility in favor of “His will,”

And us being told how to run our lives while telling others they need to do the same.

 

The world around us hasn’t caught the hope God gives.

They think we find it easier to believe myths than face reality.

And doesn’t understnad we can face our reality because the reality of God

Is reflected in life lived in the personal presence of God.

 

So, How  do you make someone want to love God?

How do you change the desires of someone’s heart?

How do we meet them at their heart’s level?

And how do we even know when to approach the heart level?

 

In the midst of my struggle reflected in this writing,

I ran across a new phrase – “A converting moment.”

In teaching we call them teachable moments.

Like a student asking leading questions, people have moments when they seek answers.

 

And it is in these moments we have opportunity to meet them at the heart level.

A time we can gently follow Apostle Paul’s example –

“I know the One  for whom magic, mythology, and wishful thinking has been substituted.

The One people create symbols for according to their interaction with His creation.

 

We can acknowledge God is so great and different in nature from us

Any system we set up to talk of God must be symbolic before we can begin to grasp God.

Yet God himself sent the symbol to earth all humans would understand… Jesus.

And through Jesus, He changed the life of law to the life of love.

 

I’ll never forget the light in the eyes of the one who confronted me

When he realized he could reach out to God outside the established church he’d rejected.

We re-established the Church’s structure is Man’s best efforts to meet community needs,

As God uses those relationships to create teachable moments, but we sometimes wander into control issues.

 

And I saw what happens when a heart re-awakens

And wants to believe in God.

We have to quit slapping people on the back of the head when they don’t get it,

Find relevant words, and watch for the converting moments to touch their searching hearts.

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