Thursday, 24 July 2014

Glass Hearts

Imagine if we were all transparent. I don't mean our physical skin and organs, I mean our souls, our hearts - the real us. Imagine if our motives could not be hidden, concealed, or disguised. In a very real sense you don't have to imagine! There are certain proven ways to see someone's heart - to truly know what makes them the person they really are. And when we are prepared for others to see our hearts there is the promise from the Lover of our souls that we will be blessed. When the masks and cloaks that ordinarily cover our hearts are subjected to the heart of God and made pure - pure of discolouration, pure of evil intent, pure of selfishness - geniunely pure, then we become genuinely blessed with the greatest blessing there is: to see God.
¶ "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Matthew 5:8
Achieving a pure heart, so I am told, is a slow and painful process, for the process demands the test of time, the test of trial, and the test of treasure. Each test increasingly exposes the concealed heart to the penetrating light of God.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:13
Deborah Harry wrote the song Heart of GlassThis transluting light of God's great love burns so brightly into an exposed human heart that it exposes all those things in the child of God that have illegitimately found a home in our hearts. Things like: hurts - which should have been weeded out of our hearts with forgiveness (Heb. 12:15 - See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled), greed - which should have been evicted from our hearts by the practice of generosity (2Cor. 9:11 - You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God), and self-centredness - which should been slain in our hearts (Col. 3:5 ¶ Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry).
¶ Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. 

Proverbs 4:23
It takes a refined heart to be the kind of ambassador for Christ that God is looking for. Over the years I have seen many men claim that God had called them into pastoral ministry. God treats this claim very seriously. Very, seriously. But sadly, I have to report that when the tests of time, trial and treasure, came, few remained loyal to their professed calling. These tests didn't change their hearts. These tests merely exposed their hearts.

Jesus told the story of two types of shepherds in John 10. One was good and the other was hired. The opposite of 'good' is not usually (if ever) 'hired'. But in this instance Jesus is giving us a glimpse into their hearts. One shepherd was 'good' not because he had to be, but because he really cared for his sheep. The other only appeared to care and only did so because he was paid. The way to distinguish the two shepherds according to Jesus is how they react under the pressure of an attacking wolf (Jn. 10:12). The good shepherd remains with his sheep because he truly cares for them. The hired shepherd flees, thus displaying what was truly in his heart.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
John 10:12-13 ¶
Some people are afraid of having a "glass heart", because, as Deborah Harry the lead singer Blondie, wrote and sang, hearts of glass are easily broken. Yes, there is a risk to have your heart encased in window of glass for all to see. You become vulnerable. Your caring can be taken advantage of. But it's still worth the risk. And I'm glad that many of you have taken this risk to being refined and somewhat exposed.

At this point in my life, I am surrounded by many people who have good hearts. They have been tested, some sorely, and have had their hearts beautifully revealed to be caring. When wolves come, these good-hearted people don't run. They take their stand, and care. In just eight weeks from now, I will have been pastoring Legana for 19 years. As I reminisce over this wonderful stint, I think of all the good hearted, faithful, caring people who are serving here. People like Judith. She has been with us for all nineteen years. No-one has attended more services at Legana than Judith (including me). Added to this, for the best part of these 19 years, Judith led our monthly outreach into the local Nursing Home. Added to this, she has organised and maintained our kitchen as well. Why has she done this? Because she has a heart for our church, and she cares. I also think of Stephen and Donna. They have been with us - nearly from the start. Have they been tested? HAVE THEY BEEN TESTED! They certainly have, and their hearts have been proven and revealed to be caring. From leading the Youth, MOPs, and our Media Team, and serving as an elder, they have allowed their hearts to be made of glass - that is, they have lived transparently so that anyone could see they care. And then there's Josh. He joined our church over sixteen years ago at around the age of 6. He is one of the most impressive young men I know. Has his heart been tested? Sure has. More than once. When Josh joined our staff, it was as a teenager for an eight week temporary casual stint. Five years later, Josh is still working for our church (and he is one of the hardest working staff members on our team). I could go on and on and talk about Geoff, Karen, Tony, John, Amanda, and others, who have been tested and had their hearts exposed as caring.
¶ " 'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false."
Revelation 2:2
None of these dear folk serve in our church for acclaim, applause, or appreciation. They do so because they care. Most of the good that has blessed, guarded, and supported our church has been done quietly, confidentially, and without recognition. The other day I looked out in our carpark and someone was tidying up the spent heads of our agapanthus. They weren't asked to do so. They didn't tell anyone they were doing it. And no one thanked them. But they didn't mind. I know they had a heart of glass because I could see right into it. And even though they've only been in our church for a little while, their good-hearted service told me a lot about them.
What would people see if your heart was 'made of glass'? When a person comes humbly to God and seeks reconciliation with Him through Christ, God transforms them by giving them in a new heart. It seems that it takes some people no time at all to display this new heart, while for others the journey is slower and longer. The next time you are tested and tried by time (delays), trial, or temptation, remember, these are the means by which your Heavenly Father uses to complete the transplant. And when the transplant is complete enough He encases your heart in a 'glass' window into which others can see what He has done. But then again, if you really want to know what's in someone's heart, you don't need a window into their heart, you just need time to watch what they do when wolves come.


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