May 12, 2014

Take Off the Mask. Become Who You Really Are.



The Heart: The source inside of us that all action, thought, and word flows out of. 
I'm going to echo and agree with scripture that the heart is the core of every single human being. In the Greek, they use the word 'Kardia' to describe what the heart is: Kardia is the center of one's inner life. Actions, words, deeds, behaviors... these flow out of what resides in our hearts. James Strong describes Kardia as "the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, [and] endeavors" within oneself. Sometimes in the Old Testament they would use the Hebrew word 'Lev' which means "the authority within." 

Let's think about it like this then: Your heart and my heart are the deepest, most important part of us. Proverbs compares it as a source of a fountain, from it flows either sweet or bitter waters depending on where and what the source is tapping into. It houses our emotions, thoughts, desires, affections, passions, and more, but it also has to have a ruler, a master overseeing it: the authority within. When we talk about coming to Christ, we often use and hear this language of 'surrender.' When we surrender we're taking the authority we hold and giving it to someone else. At the fall, the shattering of Shalom, Adam and Eve took it upon themselves to rule their hearts. God was no longer the master of their affections or desires, passions or purposes, sin was. Sin is when we say to ourselves and others, "Forget God, I can make my own decisions." It's the choosing to be our own rule makers. It's choosing the created over the Creator. It's the binding of ourselves to lesser lovers, idols, than to the covenant with the Heavenly Bridegroom. And it's us taking control and sitting upon that throne where we exercise our inner authority, rather then giving God his rightful place... letting his presence rule and reign in our hearts.

We can see now why God is passionately and ferociously after the hearts of men. He will not settle for an outward rule abiding son or daughter, who has no genuine love for Him. A meager victory for no one would that be. God isn't in the business of behavior management, but heart transformation.

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It drives me absolutely up the wall when I see others trying to white-knuckle their way into sanctification, or when I see others promoting this to fellow believers (which if that's you, for. the. love--STOP. that. I don't mean to be dramatic, but seriously, that's such a debilitating formula to put people, whom God cares deeply about, through). If one is trying to manage their behavior by...

        A) Following God's commands laid out in scripture
        B) Impressing other Christians and the church
        C) Meeting expectations and rules that you and others have of yourself or...
        D) Some combination of all of the above

...without having genuine love or affection for Christ is in vain. Period. (1 Corinthians 13) There are no clauses or stipulations in that.

White-knuckling doesn't resolve the underlying problems that are found in our hearts. If anything we do more harm than good, and God is not glorified with such actions either. Our God asks us to come before Him with our hearts broken and contrite (Psalm 51:17). These he said he will not despise, but will bind.

Truthfully, God isn't going to judge outward actions anyway. He's examines and judges the source, the heart. This is why nobody gets off scot-free. We all fail, we all sin. Even though we can try to force ourselves into following all the "rules" and fit the good little Christian mold, God still sees the evil in in us and our true motivation.

There once was this time in the Bible where God sent Samuel out to anoint the next king of Israel, which lead to him landing on Jeese's front door, who happened to have many sons. At first Samuel thinks for sure it's got to be Eliab, because outwardly, Elib appears to have it all together, you know? (People like leaders who have it all together, which really is a truth that has not changed over time.) "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart'" (1Sam. 16:7). None of David's brothers or his father would've thought he'd be the one chosen as God's next king. I mean come on? David spent his time out under a trees with his harp singing lullabies to sheep. Who puts that skill on their resume for kingship?

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Jesus tells us, that it's not enough to look great and with-it on the outside.  It's no good to follow rules or man-made Christian procedures to manage life well. That's is what the religious rulers in Christ's time promoted and burdened people with:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. -Matthew 23:25
Here's the thing about tending to the heart and it's inner workings: It's hard. Following rules... those spoken and unspoken created by church culture... that's easy. Using all the right lingo and covering up the real us? Easy. And over time, honestly, becomes boring. Who wants a systematic sanctification process--a one-size fits all formula--really??? (I'm a Christian, and I sure don't want that, nor do I think that's how Jesus rolled when you read the Bible.)

We Christians easily fall into the trap of just making ourselves look pretty before everyone--we walk into church, force a smile on our face, and say those two words we all secretly hate: "I'm fine." Never mind that there are marriages falling apart, jobs that have been lost and regaining them a struggle, financial difficulties, family issues, struggles with porn or alcohol, or those desert and winter seasons. And for too many of us its become our disease... this masquerading we're dancing along with.

Here's the thing: Jesus will always want you to let him work through healing and transforming your heart before you clean up your behavior, words, deeds... anything and everything the flows out of the heart. Surrender is about giving up our authority, but it's also way more about becoming His and who we were originally created and designed to be. It's resting in Christ's justifying work, then being sanctified through him, not through whatever works or acts you and I do to try to get him to like us. He already loves us, and there's nothing we can do to earn that. All we have to do is rest an be free in His love.

When we let this work be done in us, we become who we were really meant to be; we live in the Imago Dei more fully, and we echo Eden a little bit more day by day. Surrender is about entering into the beautiful work of redemption and restoration. 

So in thinking ahead a bit today, maybe ask yourself have you put on the mask? Aren't you tired of it? The motions of that dance? Let's take them off, and surrender to the one who can show us who we really are.

8 comments :

  1. why are these posts always so timely for me???!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...hmm...maybe it's a God thing? =)

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  2. A powerful and beautiful post, Natalie. I realize dishonesty/artificiality has roots in insecurity, but knowing we are secure in Christ and loved by Him gives us freedom to be ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is really wise :) thank you for sharing!

    ashley-ashstash.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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