While taking a class with Professor Carl Laney, I ran across an excellent list of “Themes in Proverbs.” This is his list but I thought it was worth sharing. He starts by saying “The individual proverbs are not generally grouped together topically or in a thematic series. They are quite mixed and any one chapter may contain a great variety of topics. Some of the more important themes and topics in Proverbs include the following: Continue reading Themes in Proverbs
I can’t tell you how many times—especially growing up in the Bible Belt—I heard that I needed to accept Jesus into my heart. Over the last few years, and especially lately, I’ve been convicted of a couple problems with that phrase.
We don’t “accept” Jesus, He redeems and then accepts us.
Jesus doesn’t enter our heart, the Holy Spirit does.
I don’t invited Jesus into my life, He invites me into His.
First, there is nothing more arrogant than for us to assume that Jesus must earn or receive our “acceptance.” The truth is, “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot” (Romans 8:7). In fact, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” Romans 8:8). The truth is, you are either in the flesh or in the Spirit (Romans 8:5). There’s a direct contrast between the two, so to tell someone—anyone—that they have the capability to accept something to which they are hostile is foolish. It would be like telling the darkness to accept the light or a decaying corpse to accept life. It cannot. The miraculous truth is that God accepts us because of the finished work of Christ. The only option we have is to bow down in humble worship and gratitude because we have been accepted (Colossians 1:13-14).
Second, Jesus doesn’t enter your heart. I have two big, big problems with this claim. Of greatest concern is that it doesn’t say this anywhere in the Bible. Sure, Jesus is “with us always (Matthew 28:20),” but no where in the Bible does it say that Jesus lives “in our heart.” Actually, the Scriptures tell us that after resurrecting, Jesus physically ascended up to heaven (Acts 1:9) and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 10:12, 12:2; Revelation 4:2, 9-10, 5:1, 7, etc.). Jesus is not in your heart, Jesus is seated on a throne. Why is this important? Because it shows that Jesus’ work is finished (John 19:30). The other reason I dislike this phrase is because it doesn’t make any sense. As Christians, don’t we believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? How, then, does He fit in our hearts? Sounds absurd right? That’s because it is. Once again, Jesus is seated on a throne. The Holy Spirit dwells within us, not Jesus (Romans 8:9-11—now, I realize that in vs. 10 of that passage it says “if Christ is in you” but vs. 11 clarifies this by describing the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead.” The idea here is that, because of the 3-in-1 nature of the Trinity, there is some overlap with regards to who is your heart, but the specific role of dwelling within believers falls to the Holy Spirit. See John 16:4-15 for further clarification.).
Finally, something my pastor has been saying recently that has really resounded with me is this: “When I became a Christian I didn’t invite Jesus into my life, He invited me into His.” Jesus doesn’t join your life, your plans, and your purposes. You join Jesus’ life, plans, and purposes. The point is simply that you do not attach Jesus to what you already have going on as though He’s a simple accessory to be added to your wardrobe. Instead, we reorient our entire lives around Him. Jesus becomes our True North. Instead of living for ourselves, we lay down our old lives and live for Christ.
When I saw this I realized how alone and isolated we all truly feel. Perhaps that’s why social media is so rampant; in an attempt to feel intimacy we’ve become hyper-connected. The problem is that our social circles have become very wide, but very, very shallow. It’s almost as if the ad is telling me that now it’s no longer good enough to just listen to music alone, now I also need to know what my friends are listening to. Strange, right?
If you don’t believe me or think I’m reading too much into a simple marketing gimmick, take a moment to think about the person who knows you best. Perhaps it’s a parent or a sibling or a spouse. How well do they really know you? For example, my beautiful wife probably knows about 5% of who I really am. She’s known me just over 5 years, so almost a 1/5 of my life. We were separated 1.5 years of that due to deployments. We don’t spend every waking hour together, and even when we are together I don’t tell her every single thing that I think about. She doesn’t know what happened every single day of my life before I met her and she only knows a small portion of the days we do spend together.
So how well does my wife truly know me? And how well do I truly know my wife? And how well does that person truly know you? How fully and truly do we know anyone? Proverbs 14:10 affirms this when it says “The heart knows its own bitterness and no stranger shares its joy.” The Hebrew word for heart doesn’t just mean your emotional center or something like that; the heart is the total essence of you as a person. The heart is the self that you know and, even deeper, the self that you don’t even know. The heart is who you truly and wholly are and it knows its own bitterness and no one can fully share its joy. Feeling alone yet?
And yet I find great comfort in this thought. I don’t try to compensate by telling my wife everything in hopes that she’ll understand me. Nor do I constantly ask my wife what she’s thinking so I can know her. Why? Because I rest in the firm knowledge that God does know me. Tim Keller, in The Wounded Spirit, said that “if you don’t have an intimate, personal relationship with God, you are utterly alone in the world.” And he’s right!
The comforting truth is that God knows me better than I know my self. Read Psalm 139 and you’ll quickly see what I mean. In verse 1, David says “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” The word for search here means something like “spy; probe; search; examine; explore; sound out; see through; be explored; investigate.” God hasn’t just searched you out and found you, He’s also searched you within and knows you completely. God knows us to a degree that is impossible for us to know one another or even ourselves. The description continues:
“you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.“
God knows our thoughts before we have them because He knows the minds that produce them. God knows all our ways far better than even we do. In fact, God knows us so well that He knows what we’re going to say before we do. David paints this wonderful picture of God being with us from the moment we fall asleep to the moment we wake up (I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:18b).
Wikipedia defines loneliness as “an unpleasant feeling in which a person experiences a strong sense of emptiness and solitude resulting from inadequate levels of social relationships.” Our great comfort is that we’re never truly alone. In fact, we’re never, ever alone. Not if we know God. The Person who knows us better than we know ourselves is with us always; He will never leave us nor forsake us. May you be comforted by the knowledge that God does know you and He is always with you.