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Inward Change, Outward Impact
Photo: kevin dooley
The other day, I was incredibly encouraged to hear the testimony—and sheer heart—of a friend that I went to high school with who radically met Jesus while in college. As a result, of course, he is a radically new creation.
But hearing him convey the background of God’s salvation in his life—being freed from the captivity and callousness of sin to vivacity of new life in Christ—and seeing his heart now pumping tenaciously with love for His Savior, lit the wick of an idea whose flame burned hotly in the front of my mind:
The Lord will use greatly the one whose heart is greatly set on Him.
It seemed like wherever my friend went, so also was the power of God being transported like a magnetic field around him. But despite this exaggerated spiritual anomaly, my friend serves as an excellent example for a concept that can be applied to followers of Christ in general: One whose heart is set greatly on God will usher and overflow the heart of God into that environment.
Now THAT is a messenger! And not only in presence or in deed, but surely the mouth as well—serving as the spout for that overflowing heart! For, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
But that begs the question, then, how does one get to the point where he or she can say that their heart is greatly set on God? What does that look like? And how is it possible to achieve such a posture of heart towards God?
I think it is fair to say that many of us will strive (or have striven) to try harder. Be better. Serve more. Do more Christian things. Mimic Christian lingo and disposition. Stay up to date on The Gospel Coalition. You name it. But ultimately, a posture of heart that is greatly fixed on God does not come about from doing things. In fact, it does not grow out of our doing or feeling at all.
Rather, a posture of heart that is greatly set on God is one that has been captivated in awe of what God has done for you. If anything, this posture is caused by a response to God and His goodness. That’s all.
And ironically, it is then, and only then, when you will feel more organically fueled to ‘do’ than ever before—and not because of a feeling of fear if you don’t, or a feeling of obligation that you begrudgingly must, but because of a deep gratefulness and indebtedness of receiving such amazing grace. Indeed, the first bolded statement above assumes the knowledge of the following, because it most foundational:
A person whose heart is greatly set on God will first understand that God’s own heart was greatly set on theirs.
1 John 4:19 says it best, “We love because He first loved us”. Or in other words, our hearts will not be compelled to love God until we have experienced the deep riches of His own love for us. And of course, the greatest and clearest demonstration of this is Christ at Calvary, dying in our place, and giving us redemption before and reconciliation to the God of the universe, whose fellowship we were created to enjoy both now and forevermore. And until we realize the infinite significance of what God stated and accomplished on that day, our hearts will not be set on Him, and thus, we will not be effective ambassadors of Christ.
(In fact, it is only logical that in order to be effective ambassadors of Christ, we must be passionate about the gospel that we are aiming to convey. For what good is a salesperson who is indifferent about the products he is striving to sell? Everyone can see through his cheapness of heart. But if the gospel really is good news, should not our life act accordingly?).
My inspiring friend illustrates the content of this blog in a remarkable way—he is now doing much for the kingdom of God because his heart is set greatly on His Redeemer; and his heart so greatly burns with love for God because he experienced incredible depths of love from God.
His passions for God shine through like the light of day, his love for people gush out of his personality, he leverages his skill sets to serve others, and his outreach is compelled by a robust understanding of what it means to be an ambassador for Christ Jesus. But at the very root, this trajectory of life follows in accordance from the posture of his heart–one that is fueled by the gratefulness for the grace of God he has received in Christ when he was at his worst. For in realizing the gospel’s statement about the depths of the sin he was saved from, and the greatness of the life he was saved to, it triggered a catalytic reaction that transformed the very nature of his heart into a new creation, with new desires, affections, perspectives, and delights. “For the old has gone, and the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
To bring it full circle: The gospel will not reach the four corners of this world until it reaches the four corners of our own hearts. And until the gospel reaches the four corners of our hearts—the degree that our hearts are greatly set on Him—will it be compellingly advanced in our world.
When our hearts burn for God, we will be organically set on mission like the early apostles, saying proudly about the gospel, “for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard”, “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Acts 4:20; Romans 1:16).
Indeed, a heart set on God is one that naturally positions itself for outward impact. This vertical obsession with God translates to an immediate horizontal expression with culture.
Thanks for your example, Troy. Let’s be a people like that.
About Austin Gentry
Christian Shoddy is Still Shoddy
A tense cloud hovered above the desk that separated us....
- Posted 51 days ago
We Are Not Hoodlums.
I think we've all been there. You've scoured the Christian...
- Posted 53 days ago
Of Hobbits and Angels
After seeing the new Hobbit movie (in 3D nonetheless), and...
- Posted 62 days ago
Rags to Riches and Back to Rags Again
I love a good rags-to-riches story. Sam “Walmart” Walton sold...
- Posted 73 days ago
Are We There Yet?
A few months ago, my family and I moved from...
- Posted 81 days ago
Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)