HEART THEOLOGY CAN BE RISKY!
In some religious circles, God or His Spirit is not likely to speak to the educated. God focuses on the heart and not on a person’s standing in the world (I Sam.16: 7). That is why God chooses the humble and rejects the proud (Ja. 4: 6). A person of no earthly standing can assume leadership in an emotionally psyched congregation (I Cor.1: 26). Actually, heart theology is a slap in the face of head theology and for a good reason.
Head theology has been too analytical, too critical, too skeptical and far too rational. Reason’s attempt to understand the Bible has led to confusion and doubt. Reason itself was being misapplied. It was not intended to examine the existence of God but to manage human life. Reason was to guide and not hinder man from believing in more than in himself. Reason was intended to assist and not rejected emotions or feelings. What Kant could not discover with reason, Schleiermacher discovered in his Theology of Feeling. God could not be understood but He could be felt. It was a return to heart theology. And, it should not be to anyone’s surprise that it is now prevalent even in churches that once rejected the charismatic movement. No one can deny that feelings and emotions have been refreshing and even reviving to Christians. But, yes but have feelings or emotions without logic taken us in the right direction?
The Biblical heart is more or less like a storehouse with a control center, where man gathers his knowledge and dispenses it (Mt.6: 21). It is the seat of courage, desire, discernment or anything else man wants or needs to be. It is also the place that hatches good or evil (Mt.15: 19). The heart functions very much like the Greek head or our mind. The heart, like the mind, can become defective and requires repairing (Ro.12: 2). Defective reasoning leads man in the wrong direction (Isa.1: 18). The right direction in the Bible has to do with pleasing God or obeying and practicing His Laws (Mt.7: 21). That was how David became a man after God’s heart or what God wanted of a king. That same heart allowed evil desire cause heartaches. It failed to test the spirits whether they were of God (I Jn.4: 1). Fortunately, the heart can repent and evict evil from its premises as David did. David has become an example how to deal with a wayward heart or a life that has strayed. Part of his prayer, in Psalm 51: 10-12, 17, contain the ingredients to a healthy heart.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain it.”
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
There is a comparative similarity between David’s prayer and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (MT.5: 3,5,6, 8). The pure in heart can see God and David had lost it. David’s steadfast spirit was no longer pure enough to trust God. Pride got in the way of meekness or humility and he had lost the ability to do what was right. God’s Holy Spirit was on the way out. Holiness will not share a sinful heart. When Holiness left so did the joy of salvation. The loss of the joy of salvation meant that David was no longer pleasing God. Again, David is an example of how a contrite heart can get a second chance with God. Contriteness is not just saying, “I am sorry, Lord” for having committed adultery and murder. David threw himself on the mercies of God and took his punishment (II Sam. 11- 20). His transgression had deadly consequences on his family and reign. God forgave David but his sin did not. A person can repent and his/her soul can be saved, but the body will not suffer alone; it will infect many others (I Cor.5: 5). God is merciful, but sin is not. The wages of sin is death and so was the death of Christ – wages for man’s sin (Ro.6: 23).
The biggest battles man fights are within his heart. It is reason against emotions or feelings. Paul spoke for all of us when both good and evil are at war within him. By himself, he could not last a day without crossing that thin line between the two. Man can become a slave to his feelings. Paul identified man’s desire to comfort and console the flesh with being unspiritual (Ro.7: 14-20). It is the spiritual person with a sound mind that discerns and resists the demands of the flesh (I Cor.2: 13-16). When passion seduces reason, then emotions go out of control. Emotions and not reason draw us to things we like and want but cannot afford. We live on bread alone (Mt.4: 4) and our belly has become our god (Phil.3: 19). That is why we follow those that make us feel content and safe.
The Spirit is intelligence and not feelings. The heart is purest and closest to God when it submits to the Spirit of God and not to our passion. Man is in charge over himself and not God. We do need to take a hint from Paul. “No, I discipline my body and subdue it, for fear that by teaching others, I miss reaching the goal myself” (I Cor.9: 27). Jesus advised, “Do everything they tell you, but do not do what they do” (Mt.23: 3). It can be risky to trust the heart.