Skip to main content

Your Heart

Today, something a bit different: as a way of reflecting on this Sunday's gospel passage (Jesus' encounter with a woman at a well), I want to share a fantastic passage from the Christian writer John Eldredge's book The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God:
"This may come as a surprise to you: Christianity is not an invitation to become a moral person. It is not a program for getting us in line or for reforming society. It has a powerful effect upon our lives, but when transformation comes, it is always the aftereffect of something else, something at the level of our hearts. And so at its core, Christianity begins with an invitation to desire.

"Look again at the way Jesus relates to people. There is the Samaritan woman Jesus meets at the well. She has come alone in the heat of the day to draw water, and they both know why. By coming when the sun is high, she is less likely to run into anyone. You see, her sexual lifestyle has earned her a "reputation." Back in those days, having one partner after another wasn't looked so highly upon. She's on her sixth lover, and so she'd rather bear the scorching rays of the sun than face the searing words of the "decent" women of the town who come at evening to draw water. She succeeds in avoiding the women, but runs into God instead.

"What does he choose to talk to her about-her immorality? No, he speaks to her about her thirst : "If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water" (John 4:10 The Message). Remarkable. He doesn't give a little sermon about purity; he doesn't even mention it, except to say that he knows what her life has been like: "You've had five husbands, and the man you're living with now isn't even your husband" (John 4:18 The Message). In other words, now that we both know it, let's talk about your heart's real thirst, since the life you've chosen obviously isn't working. "The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life" (John 4:14 The Message).

"In the gospel of John, Jesus extends the offer to anyone who realizes that his life just isn't touching his deep desire: "If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of livingwater will flow out from within" (John 7:37-38 NLT). His message wasn't something new, but it confounded the religious leaders of the day. Surely, those scripturally learned Jews must have recalled God's long-standing invitation to them, spoken seven hundred years earlier through the prophet Isaiah,

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." (55:1-2)

"Somehow, the message had gotten lost by the time Jesus showed up on the scene. The Jews of his day were practicing a very soul-killing spirituality, a lifeless religion of duty and obligation. Desire was out of the question. No wonder they feared Jesus. He came along and started appealing to desire.

"To the weary, Jesus speaks of rest.

"To the lost, he speaks of finding your way.

"Again and again and again, Jesus takes people back to their desires. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7). These are outrageous words, provocative words. Ask, seek, knock-these words invite and arouse desire. What is it that you want? They fall on deaf ears if there is nothing you want, nothing you're looking for, nothing you're hungry enough to bang on a door over. "The religious technocrats of Jesus' day confronted him with what they believed were the standards of a life pleasing to God. The external life, they argued, the life of ought and duty and service, was what mattered. "You're dead wrong," Jesus said. "In fact, you're just plain dead [whitewashed tombs]. What God cares about is the inner life, the life of the heart" (Matt. 23:25-28). Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the life of the heart is clearly God's central concern. When the people of Israel fell into a totally external life of ritual and observance, God lamented, "These people . . . honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me" (Isa. 29:13).

"Our heart is the key to the Christian life."

Comments

  1. Love your post, John! To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite authors, "Oh, how glorified God is when we are most satisfied in Him"! He does fill the desires of our hearts like none other!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments encouraged. In the interest of responsible dialog, those commenting must sign with their full name. To prove you're a human and not a spam-bot, I've had to include a word verification step...sorry about that.

Popular posts from this blog

Children's Creed: What More Needs to be Said?

One of the joys of my ministry is leading children's chapel for our Day School every other Wednesday (Rev. Cathy and I take turns). About 11:30 each Wednesday, the children - about a 190 of them, ranging in age from 18 months to five years of age - file in with their teachers, take their places in the pews in the Historic Church, and wait for Mrs. Thomas, the Day School Director, to start us. The service is simple: Mrs. Thomas welcomes everyone, brings us to order with a short prayer, and introduces Rev. Cathy or me. We give a short message based on the theme of the week ("David the Shepherd," "Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem," "Jesus is Born," "Jesus as a Little Boy" and so on.) After the homily, we stand and say what's called "The Children's Creed." I believe in God above, I believe in Jesus' love. I believe His Spirit too, comes to tell me what to do. I believe that I can be kind and good, dear Lord, like Thee.

A Christianity and a Church that people want to be part of

  A Church and a Christianity people and want to be part of Sermon preached November 22, 2020 Interim Dean John Ohmer All Souls Cathedral, Asheville, NC Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you

Farewell, The Falls Church Episcopal

Farewell, The Falls Church Episcopal The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal October 27, 2019 Well I’ll name the elephant in the living room up front, which is that this is my last service here with you as your Rector, and therefore this is my final sermon. I don’t have anything new to say to you this morning. But, I hope, I’ve never had anything new to say to you - I hope I have spent seven years and two months reminding you of old truths, ancient truths, lasting truths. Seven years and two months: that's roughly 366 Sundays, and while of course I’ve only preached on slightly more than half of those Sundays, most Sundays we preach twice, and so roughly speaking, I figure I’ve preached over 350 times here. And in all those sermons I’ve really only been trying to make three points. One, you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it. Two, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said “love the Lord your