Engaging The Heart
Insulated by our own devices and the environment we assemble around us, there is a tendency to form an isolation bubble that inhibits our ability to conduct ourselves in the manner that Jesus calls us to.
How can we better engage our hearts in accordance with our purpose is what we will be talking about.
This morning I read a touching tribute to a fellow Disciple of Jesus Christ, who has made the transition from this corrupt world, to a home in Heaven with our Lord and Savior.
While I’m not going to focus in on that tribute nor the person for whom it was written, the writing had an impact on my thought regarding our hearts and how sheltered we as believers have become.
I live in the United States of America, and while my homeland is the only reference point from which I can speak with assurity, if we shift our thinking from our physical location on the planet to our spiritual position in the body of Christ Jesus, we begin to see the potential for encasement of hearts of all believers regardless of their location.
Very few of us has fully engaged their heart for the Gospel, Discipleship, and welfare of those around us, let alone focused our energies on reaching beyond our encasement to engagement of our hearts for the mission fields abounding around the globe.
No one calls on your name, striving to take hold of you. For you have hidden your face from us and made us melt because of our iniquity.
Isaiah 64:7 (CSB)
Are we truly engaged in the charge given to us by our Master before He ascended into heaven to prepare a home for us?
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (CSB)
Have we really got that under control? Or have we become comfortable with things just the way they are and therefore satisfied with what has been accomplished. Perhaps we aren’t satisfied but instead so wrapped up in our localized efforts not to be affected by the ‘big picture’. Inwardly focused service while necessary should never become the extent of our devotion to the Lord.
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4 (CSB)
As with the church in Ephesus, has the passion to spread the Word of Christ, the redemption He has blessed us with, and what that redeeming grace has meant to us faded among the things that occupy us here in our encasement bubble? Have we lost our first love of Jesus?
If everything in our outreach is inwardly facing then there is no outreach at all. We are a part of the local body of Jesus but just as we are in the local body we are also part of the universal body of Christ as well. Each part working together makes the entire body healthy and active.
However, with each and every part failing to do ‘their part’ the body suffers a bit more, less is accomplished for the Kingdom, and the body becomes sick and weakened.
What is our level of commitment to Jesus? Can we really put ourselves in the image of the potter’s clay?
Yet Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we all are the work of your hands.
Isaiah 64:8 (CSB)
If we really see ourselves as formable as that clay, how can there be rigid boundaries to within which we limit our function as Disciples?
Oh, I just focus on my local church, I can’t be everywhere…
Oh, I just serve in the community, I’m only one person…
Oh, I couldn’t possibly go to another country and be a missionary!
Yes, you can. Even more importantly you should be engaged across the board. Yourself, your family, your neighbors, your local church, your state, your country, your world, and your universe, are all part of the commission for which He charged us to ‘make disciples!’
Engaging the Heart
It sounds like an impossible task for us as individuals, but it is far from that.
Our hearts can and should be engaged in all that the Body of Christ is, can and should be doing.
There is an interesting phenomenon that has been observed in human nature.
When we engage ourselves in something regardless of our interest level at the time prior to the engagement, we consistently grow into that interest proportionally to the level of engagement we invest in it.
I’m a guitarist, though not a very good one in my own estimation. However, there was a time that I had no interest in playing the guitar. As a matter of fact, I was into drums to my parent’s displeasure. More than once, I recall mom asking me if I could ‘practice’ at another time, for various reasons.
I have always like yard sales and on one occasion there was this old, very inexpensive six string guitar leaning up against the door jam of the house where the yard sale was taking place.
It had a $5 price tag on it and I was intrigued. I literally had never touched a guitar until I picked this one up and started to tinker with it. I found after a short engagement with the guitar that it was my desire to improve my position in relation to it and effectively guitar playing in general.
The owner said that I should buy that guitar! I replied that I would like to but didn’t have the money for it. To this day I don’t recall how that negotiation went. I may have walked away with that guitar for a few dollars or the lady may have simply given it to me to get it gone.
Regardless, I had my first guitar. It was a less than loved Silvertone guitar. It was supposed to have nylon strings on it but someone had replaced the original strings with steel strings. That and the poor environment that the guitar was kept in had caused the guitar to be in disrepair. The neck was warped so that the strings but a few frets away from the tuning keys on the instrument were between a quarter and a half inch off the fingerboard. This got worse and worse progressively down the neck.
The strings themselves were actually rusty, but I was engaged.
Over the course of the next week, I managed to teach myself three or four chords and develop some muscle memory for them, which was imbued with the pain that my chording hand was taking. I would play until my fingers were actually bleeding on the fingerboard, and I would have to put band-aids over my fingertips to continue to play on this less than appropriate ‘starter instrument’.
Needless to say, my mom was part of this because she much preferred the less than perfect harmonies coming out of the guitar. The instrument would never stay in tune, as you adjusted one string the next one would go out of tune.
I finally settled on having a general vicinity tuning technique where the chords actually represented like a vague rendition of what they actually should sound like. This tuning wouldn’t last through one song so at the end of every song I had to re-‘vicinity tune’ again.
I realized that I was more committed to guitar playing than I ever was to my drums and so after a few weeks, I packed up my entire drum set and drove off to the next county where the nearest music store was. There I negotiated a trade-in deal that gave them the drums and allowed me to drive home with a brand new Epiphone FT-150.
The rest is history, I still have a passion for guitar and have far more of them than I could ever use. I’ve been in a mode to sell some to thin the heard but buyers are elusive or I just haven’t got the heart to be gone with them.
What I want you to take away from this personal story is this; engagement develops passion and passion demands further engagement.
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.
John 15:5 (CSB)
Jesus wants us to be engaged with Him. Not just a little, He wants us to cling to him and not let go for anything. He also remains in us as well and so we have engagement.
The other thing about the guitar story here that applies to our discussion today is that as I learned and became better at playing and singing with my guitar I then wanted to share my passion with others. This wasn’t for financial reward or anything other than to express my engagement and share that experience with anyone that would listen.
The same is true about our engagement with Jesus. When we first gave our hearts to Him, we wanted to share that with everyone we knew. It was as if there was joy filling us up from within and we had to let that out to others or we would explode.
Later, not so much. Did we lose that first love with Christ Jesus? There is a way to restore that passion, engagement.
As members of the Body of Christ, we need to act accordingly and be engaged with that body. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. When He ascended He imparted His role to seek and save the lost to us! That role falls to His Body, His Church that he left to carry our His efforts.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10 (CSB)
So, let’s look at this from a few feet back. We are to seek and save the lost. We are part of the Body of Christ. That body exists in our local church. The local church is part of the global church or the universal Body of Christ.
So the purpose of the parts is the purpose of the whole body and vice-versa. The collective Church has two prominent objectives. Seek those who are outside of grace and demonstrate the Gospel to them, and then when they are inside of grace, teach them to be obedient Disciples of Christ who in turn save others and make more disciples.
This applies to each of us, our local churches and the global church as well. The responsibility rolls down from the global church, the local church and to each of us. We are to be participants in all of this! Not just within ourselves, not within the local church or community, but to the entire world.
How do we get there?
Just as with that old guitar, engagement. All of us aren’t called to be missionaries and go to the far reaches of the planet. If God does call us to that we should be ready and willing to respond to that call in the immediate and the affirmative. However, in general, most of us will not be called to actively be on the mission field.
But we can begin our engagement with prayer support.
Do not underestimate the power of prayer both on those we pray for and the situations they face which we pray about, but on our own lives as well, as we engage in prayer for those remote from us.
Yes, we need to be engaged locally and the community needs to look at the churches that we are apart of a nucleus of love and grace, packed with those who see to be engaged in the community. That nucleus should never be inwardly facing but outwardly motivated, the locality first, but then the world next.
Start with prayer and it is assured that just as guitar playing deepened my engagement with the instrument that your prayers will deepen your desire to help those in the mission fields in any way you can.
Your deepening engagement may mean you commit financial assistance, it may mean that you obtain the contact information for specific missionaries and not just pray for them but reach out to them through letter and other forms of communication to encourage them and let them know that they are loved and you are actively seeking God’s involvement and intervention in their efforts to spread the Gospel.
It may prompt you to take some time and go to assist those missionaries with something that they need help to accomplish. Or God may even desire that you relieve them and take their place for a season.
What it is, is not nearly as important as the fact that we maintain engagement and are consistently doing what God has asked of us when he asks. Not a minute sooner or a minute later.
He wants to see us ‘Engaging the Heart!’