19. Christ Died for Our Hearts
The human heart lives by its sympathies and affections. In the day that will try every man's works how much we bow will not come in for much consideration. What and whom we have loved will be about all that matters then. For this reason we can never give too great care to the condition of our inner lives.
The vital place of the moral sympathies in human character has not in recent times received from our religious teachers the attention it deserves. We are only now emerging from a long ice age during which an undue emphasis was laid upon objective truth at the expense of subjective experience. The climate in evangelical circles was definitely chilly. We tirade the serious mistake of taking each other as Criteria against which to judge our spiritual lives instead of comparing notes with Bible saints and with the superior lovers of God whose devotional works and inspired hymns linger like a holy fragrance long after they themselves have left this earthly scene.
The reason back of this huge error is not hard to discover. The movement toward objective truth and away from religious emotion was in reality a retreat from fanaticism. Bible-loving Christians half a century ago were repulsed by certain gross manifestations of religious flesh on the part of some of the very ones who laid claim to the most exalted spiritual experiences, and as a result fled from wild fire to deep freeze. Bible teachers became afraid to admit the validity of the religious sympathies. The text became the test of orthodoxy, and Fundamentalism, the most influential school of evangelical Christianity, went over to textualism. The inner life was neglected in a constant preoccupation with the "truth," and truth was interpreted to mean doctrinal truth only. No other meaning of the word was allowed. Objectivism had won, The human heart cowered in its cold cellar, ashamed to show its face.
As might have been foreseen, this resulted in a steady decline in the quality of Christian worship on the one hand and, on the other, the rise of religious entertainment as a source of mental pleasure. Wise leaders should have known that the human heart cannot exist in a vacuum. If men do not have joy in their hearts they will seek it somewhere else. If Christians are forbidden to enjoy the wine of the Spirit they will turn to the wine of the flesh for enjoyment. And that is exactly what fundamental Christianity (as well as the so- called "full gospel" groups) has done in the last quarter century. God's people have turned to the amusements of the world to try to squeeze a bit of juice out of them for the relief of their dry and joyless hearts. "Gospel" boogie singing now furnishes for many persons the only religious joy they know. Others wipe their eyes tenderly over "gospel" movies, and a countless number of amusements flourish everywhere, paid for by the consecrated tithes of persons who ought to know better. Our teachers took away our right to be happy in God and the human heart wreaked its terrible vengeance by going on a fleshly binge from which the evangelical Church will not soon recover, if indeed it ever does. For multitudes of professed Christians today the Holy Spirit is not a necessity. They have learned to cheer their hearts and warm their hands at other fires. And scores of publishers and various grades of "producers" are waxing fat on their delinquency.
The human heart with its divine capacity for holy pleasure must no longer be allowed to remain the victim of fear and bad teaching. Christ died for our hearts and the Holy Spirit wants to come and satisfy them.
Let us emulate Isaac and open again the wells our fathers digged and which have been stopped up by the enemy. The waters are there, cool, sweet and satisfying. They will spring up again at the touch of the honest spade.
Who will start digging?
From The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Root of the Righteous - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
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