Monday, December 10, 2012

Safe in Jersusalem--Can We Trust Our Hearts?

Safe in Jerusalem--Can We Trust Our Hearts?
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Jeremiah was a prophet. His prophecy--the problems God's people were encountering were a problem of the heart that led to a false trust in institutions and worship of idols. They did not have hearts turned to doing what was right.

In the previous blog, I explored the judgment of God which leads people to the opportunity to make things right. In this blog entry, I want to explore what keeps us from doing what is right.

Bernard Anderson, in his text on the Old Testament, writes that God's judgment comes "as a result of human recalcitrance, not as a result of the arbitrary, capricious wrath of the potter (God)...the imminent tragedy would be the consequences of their own actions."

Jeremiah tells us it is a problem of the heart, and speaks of the human heart in a number of ways:

In 4:18, we read "Your ways and your doings have brought this upon you. This is your doom, and it is bitter; it has reached your very heart." However, we cannot quickly conclude that we will "feel the guilt" and want to make things right. For Jeremiah also teaches us this about the heart in 17:9. "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" [Both biblical quotes are from the RSV and used in Anderson's text.]

God's judgment is the examination of one's heart by the eyes of God who looks for truth (5:3). God is not one who exists in the sidelines, ready to be called upon when a need arises--a second or third string quarterback yearning for the coach's eye. God is transcendent and the judge of human motives and actions (23:23-24). We are seen by the all seeing eyes of God for whom we are, what we think, what we do, and what we let happen around us. Can we stand under the power of that gaze? I would say not. We cannot stand under the power of that gaze until God changes our heart. With a changed heart, we acknowledge our sin, repent of it, and set a course for a new way of living.

This new way of living rarely stands a chance in our time. The failure is that we have supplanted the judgment of God--which leads to repentance and a change of heart--with self-awareness.

There is a story of a man who had an ongoing problem of bed-wetting--nocturnal enuresis if you want the medical condition. He went through a long series of therapy, and happily announced to his best friend, "Good news! I have learned why I wet the bed." His friend, happy for the revelation made this conclusion, "Wow. So you are not wetting the bed any more." To which the response came, "No, I am still wetting the bed, but I now know why I am."

Self awareness may, or may not, lead to humility. Or, more spiritually difficult, self-awareness may lead to humility directed to the wrong person.  Humility, diected in the wrong way keeps us from doing what is right. We will look at humility in my next blog.

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