Open our eyes, to see the things that make your heart cry. To be the church that you would desire-You’re light to be seen. Break down our pride and the walls we’ve built up inside.’ (From “With Everything”. Words and music are by Joel Houston, Hillsong Publishing).
The main thing that makes God’s heart weep is His children not living fully from the heart. ‘Does your own heart condemn you?’ If so, we will live in a self-inflicted prison of shame. Tragically, there we are fated to an ongoing relational dilemma of separation instead of joyful intimacy.
From the beginning of life, our hearts are vulnerable to easily being wounded. Once wounded by early and/or repeated traumas, it becomes ‘nigh to impossible’ to successfully live from a healthy heart. Instead we tend to live more from “masks” or “false” identities that we create (even without our conscious knowledge) to cover-up and protect ourselves.
Our “masks” and/or “false” identities are shame-based or fear inspired and causes us to live in shadows, corners, caves, deception, delusion or even dissociative un-reality. The deepest tragedy is that with masks we are robbed of genuine acceptance and love. Our masks receive all the loving nurture. We are left with emptiness and despair. For a Christian, this diminishes our ability to live our life in the freedom of Christ. I believe our heart is the core part of who we were created to be.
Our true or original identity is imprinted with the image and likeness of God. We have His DNA in our destiny. Just like a caterpillar has the DNA to grow into awesome ‘Butterfly’ behavior, characteristics and beauty; so we have the potential to grow into our designed destiny. But, not until we give Jesus our heart and allow Him to heal our broken heart. “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my way” Proverbs 23:26 NIV. Then we can begin to grow into our God given potential and receive the new heart prophesied by Ezekiel.
“I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart; put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone (hardened and wounded) heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land (the place of fellowship and intimacy with me) I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!” Ezekiel 36:24b-28, The Message-parentheses added. And we can live from the heart Jesus wants to give us, instead of from our hurt and fractured heart and its ‘walls’ and ‘masks’.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, in the Scarlet Letter said, “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” Too many (like myself) have been bewildered as to our lack of sustained authentic freedom in Christ. Early wounds or traumas that are unresolved or unhealed are ‘sub-cortical’ or below the level of conscious choice or memory. Thus our ability to be all we were designed to be is thwarted at best.
What can we do about this human malady? Especially since it is getting more prevalent as we supposedly climb Darwin’s silly evolutional ladder of natural selection? Or, for those who see themselves as ‘fine’ or ‘less flawed’ than the rest of us humans-how do we keep our religious pretense ‘intact’ or ‘undetected’? Maybe, just maybe-giving our hearts to Jesus and trusting Him in us; (even on our worse or best day) is a reasonable starting place. We become empowered to re-set our default ‘heart’ drive.
Does our true or real condition render the freedom Christ purchased on Calvary’s cross two thousand years ago null and void? Absolutely not! Liberty in Christ is real and readily available to any and all. But there are conditions to walking it out in our everyday life. Paul said to the church at Philippi, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” He doesn’t say; work to get your salvation (which in the original language means healing and wholeness).
The individual enjoyment of our Christian freedom always carries a personal price tag. It is, first of all, determining to trust that; “Christ has set us free to live a free life, so take your stand (on behalf of your heart). Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1, The Message (emphasis and parenthesis mine).
Many in the Body of Christ are either; still harnessed to a debilitating legacy of unresolved issues from generational family secrecy, or the unhealed hurts of a lifetime of painful relational failure. Many others are harnessed to a shame-filled secret life of personal moral defeat or even hidden addictive behaviors that are a vain attempt to medicate the pain of a double life.
We experience liberty in Christ as we un-harness from our pain and struggles, and daily slip our neck into the Yoke of His non-shaming, forgiving and powerful love. This will necessitate that the Body of Christ reflect His quality of loving grace in how we treat each other’s real struggles.
We must become safe enough to unmask before each other. Why, and how safe? Because we know we are all in the same process of redemption, we can be totally non-judgmental and safe toward one another. ”If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another 1 John 1:7 NASB. We can and must become safe and loving enough to walk again in the light with each other.
Next, we re-set our default ‘heart’ drive to our new heart when we live in the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free” John 8:32 NASB. Too many have been living the Christian life hiding behind masks of religious pretense. Gordon McDonald, in Pastors at Risk said, ‘We need to face the plain fact that about one inch beneath our Christian skins lives a barbarian who desperately wants to get out and express himself.’
Paul put it this way…”But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps me sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it any-way. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me join me in that delight. Parts (my wounded core parts or fractured identity and masks) of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there anyone who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” Romans 7:17-25 and Romans 8:1-2, The Message, some emphases mine.
Do we dare to “live” this truthfully with our own mirror and become as transparent as Paul? If we don’t we will miss the “joy” of our salvation. And we will miss the “joy” of authentic relational Christianity. The answer to re-setting our default heart drive is to trust everything in our hearts into the hands of our Savior?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding, but, in all your ways acknowledge me and I will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
In the grip of Papa’s Grace, Ron Ross