It was L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that taught us that for our journey we would need Courage, Wisdom, and Heart. The Tin Man declared, “I shall take the heart. For brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” It was the same Tin Man who later said, “Now I know I've got a heart, because it is breaking.” In The Four Loves C.S Lewis reminds us of the necessity of a heart in order to love.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I remember the first time I heard this idea that “your heart is central, the redeemed heart is good.” The need to get my heart back didn’t line up with my inherited theology. All that I had heard growing up pushed back, raised its dukes and reacted … “my heart is wicked” (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9). It is one of the most diabolical accomplishments of our enemy; turn us all into Tin Men attempting to do Life without a heart. If we believe in our hearts that we are the problem, that we are wicked, then we will live that way.
We are the ones Jesus left the right hand of the Father to rescue and redeem, we are the glorious ones who bear God’s image - “infected,” yes, but glorious. Like in all epic stories, the hero of the story has come to free those oppressed, the hearts under the influence of evil. Remember, evil comes to steal, kill and destroy - and at the center of our enemy’s mission, the target of their assault: the human heart. They know better than we do how this all works. The last thing they want is for us to get a new heart, a redeemed heart, a renovated and restored core in which to receive Love and become, “fully alive.” They know how sons and daughters of the Kingdom are made. All hell breaks lose to prevent a man from giving his heart to God and growing into whom he truly is, experiencing Life and Love and then offering Life and Love to the world around him. Friend, you don’t have to try to matter. You matter, your heart matters, it is the treasure of the Kingdom.
Not only is the heart central. The heart can be good. Jesus taught,
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15
Jesus doesn’t say, “Love the Lord your God with all your wicked heart” (Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30) or, “For where your treasure is, there your wicked heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
No, Jesus understands the significance of the heart and is coming after your heart. Yes, the heart can be hard, assaulted, used, wicked and wounded. But Jesus came to change all that. He wants your heart so you can experience …
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
… and enjoy God from a whole heart. Paul shared with his friend and apprentice Timothy,
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22
What!? ... The heart can be pure? Apparently it can. The heart God moves into, takes up residence, is the new “holy of holies.” How can that be wicked? It is both the territory in which God occupies but also is going to lovingly renovate and redecorate. The Trinity is both jealous and fierce in their care and will continue a good work, transforming us from the inside out. This is how good kings are made.
The enemy has long prevailed in twisting both the definition and importance of the heart and sold us a sinister lie. Could the redeemed heart be good?
If it is true … it changes everything.
Want more? Listen to the Getting Your Heart Back podcast series below.