A Cure For Our Hardheartedness

"When God becomes King, on earth as it is in heaven, He will provide a cure for hardness of heart. The healing that Jesus offered for sick bodies was to penetrate to the very depths of one's being. Transformed lives, healed from the inside out, are to be the order of the day when God becomes King...[there is] a many-sided transformation Jesus seems to have believed would happen when people followed Him and discovered what it meant for God to become King."   - NT Wright, Simply Jesus

This last weekend, we took on the idea of religion and politics. Well, we didn't. Peter did. In his letter to the early church. We just talked about it. 

What really jumped out at me this last week was how much anger there is in our culture at the moment. So. Much. Anger. People are mad about everything. We're mad about Trump. We're mad about the media. We're angry about congressional deadlock and cronyism and Russia and healthcare...the list just goes on and on.

But it's not just politics. It spills over into our relationships. It's in our communities and our neighborhoods and our families. We get angry, and finding complaint or blaming or demonizing are easier options than working things out with grace and forgiveness. 

And I guess that's the thing. Because anger turns from righteous to self-righteous pretty quickly. That's part of what we talked about on Sunday - how anger can take these two roads. Righteous anger that is motivated by compassion. This kind of anger motivates us to do something proactive and for people. It softens our hearts to the needs of others.

The other kind of anger is more readily identifiable in our world. It's a self-righteous anger that trades on ego and frustration. It's oppositional in nature, with lots of emotion directed at those with whom we disagree. This kind of anger motivates us to complain about things we can't control, to blame and demonize and tear the "other side" down. We become jaded, and it produced a hardness to our lives. Especially in our hearts. 

I love what NT Wright says above because I think it perfectly captures the situation. When we find ourselves complaining and blaming and demonizing, anything righteous about our anger disappears, replaced by "self." And when "self" is king, there's less grace. Less forgiveness. And every little perceived offense just hardens the heart a little more.

But when God is King, it moves us in the other direction. The more He has reign in our lives, the less "self" in control. We see people the way He does. We traffic in more grace, not less. We have more forgiveness to offer people...even those who offend us.

That's what it looks like when God is King. And it's the only cure for hardness of heart.

So as you consider your circle of relationships - from work, to school, to home and family - do you find yourself trafficking in more: complaint or grace? Blame or forgiveness?

When 'self' is king, our hearts will only grow harder. But when God is King...we find a cure that heals us from the inside out. 

Which way are you moving?