What 's Going on With Your Heart?
Heart technology is really amazing. I’ve had some heart issues recently, so that means I have to undergo a number of heart scans—everything from electrocardiograms to echocardiograms to catheterizations to stress tests. All of these tests are fascinating. A trained medical professional can look at my heart on a video screen and tell me what’s going on with my heart.
A couple of days ago I had another EKG. It measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat, and it only takes a few seconds. After the test was over, I started to think about a different kind of heart test. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was a heart scan that could tell you what percentage of your heart is fully devoted to Christ? Imagine all of us connecting to such a machine just before communion to give us an assessment of how healthy our spiritual hearts are. Kind of a scary thought, isn’t it? Nevertheless, the condition of our spiritual heart matters.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been talking about what kind of church we want to be, the kind of people we want to be. More importantly, we’re being challenged to consider what kind of people God wants us to be. God wants us to be authentic Christians, genuine to the core. That sounds good, but do you know whether you are an authentic Christian or not? Is there some kind of spiritual “heart scan” that can indicate authenticity in you? Actually there is, but it’s not some technological machine. It’s something far more comprehensive than that. It’s the way you live.
The core of your character and the genuineness of your faith are revealed in the crucible of daily living. As you make your way through life, others will see who you are under pressure. They will see how you wrestle with moral and ethical decisions. Let them see the ways that you are learning to apply and practice the teachings of Jesus in your unique circumstances. And especially let them see the way that the love of Christ shapes your attitude, reaction, and disposition toward others. Why? According to what Peter says in the letter that bears his name, this may be the real litmus test of authentic faith.
Peter says that love is the real test of whether you are obeying the Gospel. It’s very possible to believe all the right things, have your doctrine right, and to be living a moral life for reasons other than the Gospel. But Peter says, “No. The real test that you are obeying the Gospel is that you will love fellow Christians.” It’s when you love other Christians in your church without malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, or slander of every kind. That’s how you know.
How do you know if you are obeying the Gospel? Do you find yourself forgiving people who are critical of you? Are you able to pull for the success of people who have wronged you? Are you gracious and open to people in your manner, in your tone, comments? Or are you sensitive to criticism and always feeling that people are slighting you? That’s the heart test.
If God has extended that love and acceptance toward you, and you know it, then you should try your hardest to extend it to others. That’s how you know what’s going on with your heart. That’s how you know your faith in Christ is authentic.