Thursday, July 14, 2022
My heart is heavy, but it remains healthy. The heaviness is being caused by a disease. It’s not a new disease, but just a new form of an old one. I am trying to fight it off, and because my heart is healthy I believe I am succeeding, but my heart is heavy because of the vast numbers of people the disease is affecting. It is highly contagious, especially to those who have weakened immune systems. Unfortunately, there are huge numbers of people with those weakened immune systems and they are not only susceptible to the disease but are already suffering from it. That’s what makes my heart so heavy.
The disease has taken on many forms through the years, so it has become increasingly difficult to diagnose. In its early stages it was generally diagnosed as liberalism. As the disease progressed and mutated it became identifiable by symptoms like legalism and permissiveness. These appear to be conflicting symptoms, but that’s exactly why this disease has been so hard to specifically diagnose. Other symptoms developed as time passed. The disease affected people’s ability to understand and accept truth as truth. It “opened their minds” to new definitions of what everyone used to call sin. In the church, it produced an overwhelming need for social acceptance. That has resulted in symptoms of emotionalism and secularism. To appear to have healthy hearts, those affected by the disease have united with others in so-called “faith communities” based on socially accepted similarities. In doing so, they have had to deny that there is any real need for distinguishing truth from error. In its most recent stages the disease has progressed by giving rise to social conscience at the expense of sound doctrine. The very truths of God’s nature and character have been rewritten to become acceptable and understandable to modern man. Only the characteristics of God that result in temporal benefit to mankind are emphasized. The disease has succeeded in its evil purpose – the destruction of the truth of God and the hardening of the heart of man.
So what is this terrible disease? It is so simple yet so profound. It is the same disease that split the angels of heaven. It is the same disease that separated man from God in the first place. It is the same disease that destroys the hearts of people today. It is pride. Its single most recognizable symptom is self-centered living. It is deadly when left untreated. It is destroying churches who think that they exist to please people. It is destroying people who think that God exists to satisfy them. But there is a cure. And it is possible to restore one’s immune system to fight it off in the future. The cure is Jesus Christ, and the correction of the immune system is accomplished through a commitment to the truth. While the disease has progressed to a point of deep infiltration into the church, and can be labeled as pandemic, I believe it is possible to save individuals from its infectious consequences. It will require us to take a stand that will not be popular, but we are not seeking popularity. We will be persecuted for our stand, but our stand is based on truth that results in healthy hearts of humility.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this disease way back in the first century when he sent a letter to his friends at the church in Corinth. These words have helped me to resolve to stand strong with a healthy heart. I know they have strengthened my immune system so I can fight off the disease. I hope they do the same for you.
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”