A Change of Heart
We’ve just begun our ‘Living the Christian Life’ series on Sunday evenings. We’re going through the Sermon on the Mount asking the question - how does this help us live like Jesus? That’s the big theme of the sermon - it can read as a list of moral and spiritual practices that describe what a Christian pattern of life looks like. I think it’s better understood as a description of the character and attitudes of a Christian than as a list of dos or don’ts.
But where does this character come from? What sort of a person has a righteousness that “exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees?” Jesus says elsewhere that it is out of the heart that our actions flow. What we need to live a Christlike life is a Christlike heart.
We’re getting ready for our Freedom in Christ retreat (21-23 February if you’re available). One of the key verses for Freedom in Christ is Jeremiah 17:9 - “the heart is deceitful above all things.” The opportunity of the retreat is to dig into some of the bad patterns of the heart that we have fallen into in order to allow God to heal us and change us. The retreat offers a number of beautiful opportunities to come before God in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to touch us and transform us. God’s work in us as we come to Him literally changes our hearts.
Looking towards Lent, we’ll be going through a preaching series called “Thriving Spiritually: how the spiritual disciplines connect us to a life of grace.” We’ll be spending most of the time in Matthew chapter 6 - looking at the practices of giving, prayer and fasting. The idea is not that these things are ends in themselves, but that our spiritual practices connect us to rhythms of grace that allow God to be at work in our lives. We can’t be at Freedom in Christ every day - but we can adopt some spiritual habits that will allow God to continue the same work in us on an ongoing basis.
Our purpose as a church is to be “transformed by Christ to love God and our Neighbors.” While this transformation is God’s work, we can place ourselves in a position to receive that work of grace. We can’t change our own hearts - but we can choose whether to receive God’s work in our lives or not. My prayer is that through God’s grace each of us might receive a measure of God’s power to transform in this season. A change of heart.