Thursday, August 27, 2015

Christ Died for Our Hearts

This is a rewrite of AW Tozer's essay of the same name. Large parts of it are quoted (but not marked as so), other parts are rewritten for clarity with a more modern audience. Originally written 50-70 years ago, none of it my own, it is very much worth reading.

The human heart lives by its sympathies and affections. In the day that will try every man's works it is not how much we know that will 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 moral sympathies in human character has not received the attention it deserves from our religious teachers in recent times. 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 church circles was definitely chilly. We made the serious mistake of comparing ourselves to each other to judge our spiritual lives instead of comparing ourselves with Bible saints and with the superior lovers of God whose devotional works and hymns linger like a holy fragrance long after they themselves have left this earthly plane.

The reason behind 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 disgusted by certain gross manifestations of religious action by those who claimed to have the most exalted spiritual experiences, and as a result fled from the wildfire and into a deep freeze. Bible teachers became afraid to admit the rightness of religious emotion. The text became the test of tradition, 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, the 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 Christian 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 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. Commercialized "gospel" singing now furnishes for many people 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 people 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" and getting fat on their neglect.

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 be like Isaac and open again the wells our fathers dug and which have been stopped up by the enemy. The waters are there, cool, sweet and satisfying. The will spring up again at the touch of an honest shovel. Who will start digging?

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