What is in your heart?

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What is in your heart when you see a woman shrouded in a black burka with nothing but a slit across her eyes with which to see or be seen? What is in your heart when you see a Middle Eastern man in a robe with a full beard? What’s in your heart when you see a roomful of men on their knees bowing in the same direction with their foreheads touching the ground? What’s in your heart when you see Hillary on TV? When you see Donald? Or President Obama? There should be only one thing in all of these cases … in every case … Love. If there is anything other than love in our hearts when we see anyone, we have some work to do. I can only speak for myself, but I can speak truthfully when I say that I do.

If we are going to manifest grace turned outward to the world, we have to start with what is inside ourselves.

When Jesus said to love our enemies, He meant to love them. This is not a platitude; it is a state of the heart and the way He wants us to live. He wasn’t talking about being nice to them while we grit our teeth. He wasn’t talking about seething quietly inside while we pray for God to rain down judgment on them. He was talking about loving them with a love that begins in the heart. When He was talking about praying for those who persecute you, He meant to pray for their welfare, to pray for their needs, to pray for their own souls — their own relationships with God.

To retaliate against someone who has attacked you is to stoop to their level. This is why Jesus asks us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and give someone your shirt if they take your coat. These reactions stop the cycle. They are revolutionary. Forgiving those who harm you instead of harboring hatred and resentment in your heart frees you, and frees them as well.

In cases of perpetual abuse, you love your abuser and yourself too much to stay in the relationship that perpetuates the unhealthy exchange. You leave, and if you can’t leave, you get help. But you are doing this out of love, not hate. Hate spins the unhealthy cycle; love stops it.

We represent a kingdom that is not of this world. If we’re going to follow Jesus, then we need to look like Jesus. Jesus hung on a cross and forgave those who put him there. That Roman soldier who was ripping open His flesh — He loved that man. He forgave him already because he didn’t know what he was doing. The cross Jesus was headed to was going to wipe that man’s sin away, and the very lashes he placed on Jesus were the stripes by which he himself would be healed.

We must realize that the kingdom of God operates on an entirely different level than the kingdoms of this world, and America and American politics operate as kingdoms of this world, which is the reason why we will never get God’s business done by aligning ourselves with them. You cannot vote the kingdom of God into office. You can only be the kingdom of God. And that is what Christ has asked us to do.

I had a chance to spend some time this weekend with The Myth of a Christian Nation: How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church, by Gregory A. Boyd, and I am recommending this book to all those who want to represent the kingdom of God in the world. We have gotten this wrong for a long time, and many of the beliefs that are wrong run deep and are hard to unravel, but Dr. Boyd has done it. I can’t straighten this out in a Catch or two. Knowing there was something wrong with aligning ourselves politically, I’ve been trying to figure this out for years. This book does it as well as any I know, and I highly recommend it — indeed, require it — if you want to represent grace turned outward, especially now, in this election year.

I also want to turn you on to our very special guest tonight on BlogTalkRadio. Rob Stutzman is head of his own Public Relations firm in Sacramento and has been a political consultant to a number of candidates in various state and national campaigns. He is frequently called upon by the news media to comment on political matters. He also happens to be on our Board of Directors and has graciously agreed to be on BlogTalkRadio tonight amidst a very busy schedule, to discuss some of these issues. Set a reminder; you won’t want to miss this!

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13 Responses to What is in your heart?

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John let me give u a suggestion, plz… The book you mentioned @ the end of today’s Catch sounds like it would be an interesting read, yet plz pretty plz consider and re-read a book you once suggested here @ the Catch: Dale Carngie “How to Win Friends…” and maybe just maybe you’ll learn if you tell someone their wrong as you did: “We have gotten this wrong for a long time, …” My first question do you have a mouse in your pocket? Who is this “we” you stated @ the end of your first paragraph, which should have been the first or second sentence: “I can only speak for myself…” So right there but by the end you forgot how you began…

    • jwfisch says:

      I try to use “we” as much ass possible because it says I need it as much as anybody, which is the truth.

  2. Kris Rudin says:

    What is in our hearts, indeed. Thank you for speaking truth. The Gospel is truly revolutionary. And the American church (by and large) has strayed from the essence of this. We, I, have strayed. Love is the answer. Love is always the answer.

  3. Kent Burkholder says:

    If you have to call your self a “Conservative Christian” or anything else other than a “Christian”, you’re not in the right place. I said it once before John, buckle up.

  4. gregg says:

    Thanks John. I need to be reminded to pray authentically for those rather than with lip service. Every time I see a politician I don’t agree with or whomever. The simple fact is #1, they all need Jesus in their hearts.

  5. Peter Leenheer says:

    A very thought provoking catch, so I will wait and see how you develop the political side of this catch in the next number of days.

    On the first part of this catch…the part about love. I would like to share a Beth Moore quote that spoke to me loudly into how I was loving the opposite of what Christ commanded.

    Ïn Ephesians 5:1,2;”Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and he offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

    ” We are to literally live love. Fuzzy thought isn’t it. The very nature of love is sacrificial. In fact, if we are not presently feeling the squeeze and sacrifice of loving, we’re probably exercising a preferential, highly selective self centered human substitute.
    Not only have we been called to live sacrificial love, at times we may expend untold self sacrificing efforts for years and even the rest of our lives without seeing any apparent fruit.

    God has called us to love when…..
    1. We don’t want to
    2. We don’t feel like it.
    3. We get nothing obvious in return
    4. They don’t deserve it
    5. They’re not worth it
    6, They don’t even know it
    7. It makes no difference to them

    Unless you are not getting out enough, I am sure God is confronting you with the challenge to love someone right now who brings out most of those feelings in you. Mind you loving sacrificially does not equal subjecting ourselves to untold abuses. God doesn’t call us to sacrifice sanity, He calls us to sacrifice our selfishness.”

    For me sacrificing my selfishness has been a real struggle, but I want to do it.

    Looking forward to the politics!!!

    • Sandie says:

      Something in your words recalled a line from an old Don Francisco song…”love is not a feeling, it’s an act of your will.”
      I had to learn how to “live love” when I was working with teens – especially when I was in the position of deciding discipline for them – and especially when I had played a part in whatever infraction they committed. While the adreneline was still pumping…while I was still angry, fuming, frustrated, insulted, hellbent on revenge even…I had to mentally, emotionally and spiritually remove my ‘self’ from the situation. Only then could I make a decision that would be in the teen’s best interest – a decision that could hopefully eventually lead them to them making better decisions for themselves in the future.

    • jwfisch says:

      This is a great reminder. Thanks.

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