Hardened Hearts: Can We Really Do All Things Through Christ?

The Pharaoh of Exodus is a villain whose heart goes from bad to worse. He is the poster boy for hardened hearts. We do not want to be like him. We should warn each other of the dangers of hardening our hearts, not to judge one another, but to help one another.

Social media is best when used to connect with friends enjoying life.

It is also the best way to enjoy the strange behavior of cats (without all the shedding). Social media is most destructive when it is a forum for controversial issues. It can quickly turn toxic. I know, I’ve contributed.

I am guilty of fueling social media drama in 2015. I posted feverishly on Confederate Flags and on Donald Trump. I wrote and interacted on other issues like Islamic terrorism and courage to care for refugees, but why was I so intense about two subjects as odd as a flag and a braggart? Although I occasionally lost the plot, I was motivated by at least one good concern:

I am concerned about heart health.

I choose to write assertively when I see a chance to clear life-threatening hardening of hearts. My goal is not directly to affect policy. My goal is to leverage select social issues to invite people become aware of dangers. It is part of my Christian calling.

Jesus is very radical.

People who follow him in spite of persecution see this very clearly. People who are relatively wealthy and powerful do not always realize how radical Jesus is. When difficult decisions must be made people reveal what they trust in. Too many who identify with Jesus in name do not identify with Jesus in danger. They turn to practical help in times of great need. Real help. Not Jesus and his radical ideas. I turn to Jesus. I think his radical ideas are real help.

My direct challenges are actually indirect approaches to deeper problems. 

I am not directly concerned about Donald Trump. I am not directly concerned about Confederate flags. But as a Christian leader I am directly concerned with the hearts of people who call Jesus Lord.

Can we do all things through Christ who strengthens us?

Philippians 4:13 is a super-verse. People memorize it and declare it, often as part of pursuing prosperity and security. But the preceding verses reveal the point of the short letter to the Philippians.

“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”

“I have learned the secret of living in every situation,

whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

“For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

  • Are we content, or do we have more to learn?
    • Paul is writing this while under arrest for his faith. He is facing a possible death sentence (ch 1).
  • Can we do without and still be faithful?
    • Paul wrote that following Jesus, including his sufferings, are greater than Paul’s own heritage. (ch 3).
  • Can we handle blessings of prosperity and security and still be faithful?
    • Paul wrote about what to do with what we received from trusting Jesus. We are to work out courageous sacrificial love in our own lives (ch 2).
  • Is our loyalty to live through Christ strengthened by worldly power or by Christ?

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together.” Philippians 1:27-30

  • Where is our citizenship?
  • How do we conduct ourselves?
  • Are we intimidated?
  • Do we accept the privilege of suffering with Christ, like Christ?

If we cannot answer these questions well in times of relative peace and prosperity, how will we be able to stand faithful when truly difficult times come? And so…

I use social media to warn my family in Christ: Do not harden your hearts!

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. – Hebrews 3:12,13

The Grinch is a classic Christmas tale. The villain becomes a hero when his heart changes. We need more heroism. We need changed hearts. So be of good cheer, enjoy this hopeful reminder… and don’t lose heart!!

– Merry Christmas 2015

Bonus? 42

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