Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Hard Truth about Hearts

Jesus doesn't have a position on the 'issues;' His position has always been on hearts. He cares about human beings, human souls - not ideas and things. He cares about the things that are knit inside of us in our mothers' wombs, not the headlines that we keep trying to play up. And we need to be more like Jesus. 

The truth is that it's harder to be concerned about hearts, to always have human beings in your focus instead of ideas and issues, but in some ways, it's actually much simpler. You just get to love the person in front of you through the circumstances that you have to deal with instead of having to figure out so many multiple layers of things. 

Let's just look at the issue of guns for a minute, since that's what we're talking about. It's one thing to say that Jesus cares more about hearts than guns, but what does that mean? Specifically, what does that mean at the intersection of hearts and guns? 

Do we start with the heart that uses guns, right now, to kill others? That walks into a public or semi-public location and opens fire out of its own pain and anger? Do we start, then, with violent outrage and actions...or do we start with pain and anger? 

Maybe we start with the human need to own guns at all. God didn't invent guns; we did. They weren't just there in Eden for our taking; we made them. Maybe we have to start with the depravity in our own hearts that made us make guns in the first place. 

But guns are not intrinsically evil, are they? They are used for hunting and for provision. But then, is it sinful to say that we need guns for our own provision because God has not sufficiently provided for us? 

We say that we need them for our own protection, but that just pushes the issue. We wouldn't need a gun for our own protection if there weren't someone else out there whose heart was depraved or broken enough to want to harm us in some way. So do we deal with our hearts that want to depend on guns for our protection, or do we deal with the hearts of others who create our need for protection from them in the first place? 

These are the questions we're asking about gun control, really. The main question is: where do we start? At what point do we have to intercept the issue to make an impact on it, even if we are couching our intervention in the language of human hearts? How far back do we have to go into our own depravity to make a meaningful change on our present condition? Once we start going down this rabbit trail, it's hard to stop. 

I think Jesus understood that. I think that's why He avoided so many of the 'issues' of His day (and ours) and instead focused on the hearts of the men and women right in front of Him. It's because that's where we have a chance to make an impact right now. That's where we can do the most good. That's where the Good News needs to be heard and hope and love and grace and mercy and justice need to be extended. 

We're never going to un-violence the world. We're never going to un-issue ourselves. We're never going to get rid of the kinds of debates we have, although we might change them as time goes on. Men, in our depraved hearts, always find a way to hurt one another. We always find conflict. If you take away what we're using today, we'll find something else tomorrow. Our hearts are simply broken that way. And we cannot go back into the Garden and fix them. 

What we can do is mend them right now. What we can do is focus on the moment we have right now. The moment when the woman caught in adultery stands before the crowd, the moment when the tax collector climbs the tree, the moment when the Pharisees condemn the Healer, the moment when the soldiers nail the Savior to the Cross. We have broken moments right now, and in these broken moments are human beings, not issues. There are hearts to love and to hold and to heal. There are men and women created in the image of God who need a taste of the glory that they've lost sight of, that the world has tried to strip from them. 

As we've been reminded this week, even a favorable outcome on the issues doesn't change the realities in which we live. It doesn't change the things our hearts wrestle with. It doesn't change our need to confront our own brokenness, individually and as a community. It doesn't change our need for intervention. It might make us feel like we're doing something, but the truth is that even if we get what we want, we realize that we haven't done anything. We keep saying, I keep hearing, when we get a little inkling of what we want, that "it's a start." But we've been "starting" for thousands of years. 

If we want to do more than that, then we have to stop pretending that anything in this world is about the "issues." It's not It's about human beings and human hearts and image-bearers of the Living God. It always has been. And if you think that's not the case, then ask yourself why Jesus spent His entire ministry ignoring the "issues" of Rome and even Jerusalem and instead, investing Himself wholly in the hearts and lives of sinners.  

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