Head, Heart & Hands: Distortions of the Heart

“Head, Heart and Hands” Cover

Ever found the “heart” dimension of one’s faith or the faith of the larger Body of Christ distorted?*

How does God draw us back to a balanced faith expression between

  • head
  • heart
  • hands?

Insights from Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart [George Cro­ly, Psalms and Hymns for Pub­lic Wor­ship (Lon­don: 1854)]

  • 1st verse distortion – earth’s enticement
  • 2nd verse distortion – emotional, highly spiritual experience at the center of life – not God
  • 3rd verse distortion – doubt when God is silent or not speaking to me
  • 4th verse distortion – doubt of the will – declining to accept God’s grace
  • 5th verse distortion – failing to return God’s love

Distortions

  • Neglect of the heart – too little attention
    • Loss of the indwelling Spirit and presence of God
    • Absence of God’s person in our hearts
    • Displacement of God in our hearts – “you cannot serve God and money.”
  • Loss of mystery
    • Rational thought – the use of the mind – does not approach God with mystery
    • There is a sense of awe that comes with being a Christian, in recognizing as Charles Wes­ley:

“Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?” …

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”
And Can It Be That I Should Gain? (Charles Wes­ley, Psalms and Hymns, 1738., 2nd half of verse 1, verse 4).

What is the nature of our struggle with mystery?  Why does the church struggle so much with this part of our faith?

  • Replacement of character with legalism
    • Curse of the Pharisees – see Matthew 23:1-39
    • Dirty on the inside; clean by appearance on the outside
  • Loss of full understanding of the Gospel (How is this different from missing “mystery” in our faith?)
  • Overemphasis of the heart – too much attention to this faith dimension
    • Susceptible to the “whims” of the heart – feelings
    • Disconnect with the world
    • Disconnect from God’s truth

Principles for a Healthy Heart

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.”

  • 1st verse – turn toward God and his love
  • 2nd verse – God’s quiet sustaining spirit
  • 3rd verse – God taught patience
  • 4th verse – Hungry heart to search for God
  • 5th verse – God taught love

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Next in series: Christian Faith and the Hands

*Drawn from an adult elective based upon Dennis Hollinger‘s “Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action” (InterVarsity Press, 2005). Kevin Milligan facilitated the class at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church. Note: See the first post in the series for more on the genesis of this study guide as part of a local Emerging Scholars Network partnership (South Central Scholars Network PA FB and Christian Scholar Series).

Tom came across the ‘Head-Heart-Hands’ graphic at Gateway Christian Church, http://www.gatewayontheweb.org/index.php?p=1_28. As one of his colleagues shared with him via email, “It rocks.” Amen.

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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