Spiritual Cardiology

by Joshua Crutchfield

heartI believe that my wife and I have such a unique story that even Nicholas Sparks would want to buy the rights for his next best seller. You see, we have been close friends for nearly sixteen years. We served together in our youth group, of which her father was the youth pastor. We performed skits together. We were in the praise band together. We also dated. We were the familiar story of high school sweethearts; only our story broke from traditional patterns. In Jamie’s senior year of high school, her father took a position and moved his family to Tennessee. This brought the tentative conclusion to our relationship. As a result, I began to identify with all the sob songs of those with broken hearts. My world ended, or at least, that is what my heart wanted me to believe.

The heart is a beastly creature. Jean Jacques Rousseau said of the heart, “Nothing is less in our power than the heart, and far from commanding we are forced to obey it.” No matter how hard we may seek to tame our heart, we find that we are still subjected to its power and driven by its beating desires. The heart pulses our emotions and enforces our steps. Many times, we appear to be bound to its will.

The idea that we should listen to our heart appears conceptually in many songs, books, and films. Notions like “The heart wants what it wants,” “What does your heart tell you,” and “Listen to your heart,” unfortunately, permeates into the thinking of believers. So infused is the belief that the heart is trustworthy that believers would even encourage others to be attentive to the heart’s murmuring, all the while forgetting the sickness this emotive organ possesses.

The Heart’s Deception

Maybe some would like to blame the fat cherub with the bow and arrow for all their troubles, never thinking that their state could be a result of blindly following the throbbing desires of their heart. It would be easy to blame a suave sales person for the weighty debt some may fall under, not realizing that it was the passion of their heart and not the persuasion of a peddler.

In Jeremiah 17:9, we become aware of the heart’s condition. The heart is the ultimate sociopath. Nothing is more deceptively convincing than it. Further, it is gravely sick. There is not a person who can understand it. Though we may not be capable of understanding it, we have no problem following the atrial fluttering of our violent heart. We simply give in to every sinful urge and desire and then justify our actions by stating we are following the drumbeat of our heart.

The passions of our heart tend to lead us down destructive paths. We can look at the declining condition of the heart after the rebellion in the garden (Genesis 3). The violence of the heart proliferated within humanity. Every intention of the heart was resolved in doing evil and carrying out violence (Genesis 6:5). As a result, God brought a flood of change and I don’t just mean the deluge. With the mankind’s condition of spiritual cardiomyopathy, God would provide the ultimate cardio surgery—circumcision. 

The Heart’s Operation

As Israel wandered through the desert, God was already speaking of a new, necessary circumcision. Though the sign of their covenantal standing with God was based on a circumcision of the flesh (Genesis 17), God would have to operate deeper than the flesh and circumcise their hearts. Throughout the course of Israel’s time in the desert, it was clear that their hearts longed for anything, but God. Moses commands them to circumcise their heart, but that was a command that they simply could not do (Det 10:16; Jer 4:4). This task would have to be undertaken by a master surgeon of world-renown.

We are called to love our God with all their heart, yet our heart is defective. Remember, our hearts want what our hearts want, and it is not God. Still, God pursues us with His love (the heartbeat of the Gospel), and provides us with a completely new heart—He performs a heart transplant! Though we cannot and will not pursue His with a heart of stone, God will give us a heart of flesh (Ezk 11:19). Through a confession of sin and an admission of guilt, God will not only forgive us, but He will also turn our hearts completely to Him (Deut 30:6; Ezk 18:31–32).

So as the season of “love” and “hearts” approaches us, understand the condition of your heart. It is not something to be trusted. It is vile, wicked, and disturbed. Instead of seeking and justifying your sinful pleasures, seek the Lord. And when you seek him with all your heart, you will find Him (Deut 4:29).

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