Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A New Heart Understanding

The Christmas season is definitely upon us and as we celebrate with all of the lights and fancy decorations and gifts and packages, many people will reflect on the Christ Child.  The One whose birth is recognized on December 25th.  We see nativity scenes regularly and there are singing Christmas trees and carolers and concerts.  Many children participate in Christmas programs at churches and schools all over the country.  When the telling of the birth of Jesus Christ is done in whatever form it is a prime time for His invitation to us to believe and receive Him as redeemer.  He is called the Prince of Peace, and Emmanuel which means "God with us."  The story goes on further through His life of ministry and then His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection.  He then ascended into heaven and the 3rd "person" of the Trinity was given to us on earth in a new way.  Fantastic!  Where is this going?
After the message of Jesus is preached or brought before a group of people, the invitation is often stated, "If anyone would like to invite Jesus into their heart, the altar is open."  Of course that is not the exact wording used every time by every minister of the Gospel, but the part that gets me is, "Jesus into ... heart."  I'm not saying that anyone using this terminology is wrong, but where is that in the Bible?  We laugh at young ones who've just been taught about this when they ask how Jesus got into their hearts, but really is that such a silly question?  I don't think so.  After working as an ICU nurse with cardiologists, I've gotten to know a little bit about hearts and that analogy, if taken literally, is just nonsense!
I don't know where that phrase came from and I'm not going to look it up.  Wikipedia is not my source of revelation.  At this point, I'm not even going to say that the origin of the phrase is important.  As I was doing devotions with my children this morning, Holy Spirit gave me a new look at this phrase.  Interestingly I never said this phrase, but reading John 3:1-21 made me contemplative.  As Nicodemus asked Jesus if he was to climb into his mother's womb to be "born again," I began to contemplate the terms we use to become, "saved."
First of all, the heart is a muscle.  It is a unique muscle with its own kind of tissue, cardiac muscle.  The cells are different from any other muscle type in the body.  It's function is to pump life to the body in the form of oxygen (working with the lungs) and pump death from the body in the form of carbon dioxide.  Because of its design, no other muscle in the body can complete that function.  Well, that is amazing!  So if I ask Jesus to come into my heart, I'm asking for life to come in and death to leave?  That is one way to look at it.  The Bible says that no one can come to the Father except through the Son.  There is no sacrament, human or anything that can replace Jesus.  John 14:6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
The part that really intrigued me the most this morning, though, was not the physical heart.  It was the heart shape as one would cut out and give to someone on Valentine's Day.  In this case, a heart is a symbol for love.  So in other words, maybe we could be asking Jesus to, "Come into my love."  Woah!  Now that stirs up so much new perspective for me.  The first and greatest command is to, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”  Mark 12:30 NLT.  So if I were to have Jesus come into my love, I’m inviting Him in so that I can love Him with all of my being.  I’ve heard of Jesus calling us to come into His love, but us inviting Him to come into our love is mind-blowing.  It is a big thing to do.
My son shared something that he heard on the radio from Doctor Greg Laurie.  I can’t give more reference than that because I don’t know when it was and this might not be the premise he was teaching on either.  From Revelation 3:20 Jesus said, “ I stand at the door and knock.”  Well if we let him in to our living room and then leave him there alone while we have dinner in the other room, we are letting him in to our dwelling, but not into our love.  He wants to come in and dine with us and have a relationship with us.  He wants to come into our love.  When we go to the store, if we leave Him in our living room, we are not bringing His light with us either.  Now think of this… when we add His love to our love, it is magnified and if I have Him in my love, my actions and attitude changes toward everything.
Some people might think it strange if they, “ask Jesus into their love,” and don’t feel anything.  Yes, there is such a thing as love at first sight, but not everyone experiences that.  In the “good ole days” sometimes a marriage was for convenience or arranged by someone.  The Janette Oke book, Love Comes Softly, has a great example of that.  Love grows as a relationship is built.  There are many people who become born again who feel God’s love so strongly that upon their decision, they do feel love toward Jesus.  Others (I would classify myself here) have followed Christ since childhood and do not recognize that love right away.  Still others just don’t feel anything.  I told my kids this morning that I loved them from the moment I knew they were growing inside of me, but the more time I spend with them the more I love them.  It is the same as we develop a relationship with Christ Jesus.  The more we worship, the more we read the Bible or Word of God, the more we pray, the more love we feel toward God.
I John 1:9 says, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  John 14 21 says, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.  And because they love me, my Father will love them.  And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”  So in order to obey His commands, I need to know them.  To know them I need to read them and meditate on them.  Knowing Him is loving Him and loving Him is knowing Him.
I’ve asked Jesus to be my Savior and I’ve asked Him, “into my heart.”  I’ve confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead as Romans 10:9 instructs.  Today, I want Jesus to come into my love.

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