Sunday, February 10, 2008

Transformed By An Open Heart

I recently sat down at a local coffee shop to read my Bible but instead ended up in conversation with two married folks about Christianity. The conversation began lightly with the admiration and awe that we felt in regard to Christ because of God’s answer to a prayer that we had all been praying about. We then moved on to multiple topics about religion, God’s place in the world, the belief that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, and how many paths there are to Heaven. The wife was very attentive during our discussion but the husband, whether it was because he was hard of hearing (I believe he was in his late 60’s) or because of stubbornness, would barely let me speak.

Before I continue my story, let me first mention that I understand that we have to be very careful in our discussions to not segregate people to the point that they do not see and understand what is most important: Christ’s love. Also, I recognize that petty arguments about Christianity with believers who are new or weak in their faith--arguments about things that are morally gray--many times do not end the way either party wants and are also spoken against in scripture (Romans 14:1). That being said, when the Bible speaks of something in a black and white manner--in a way that leaves no question about the author’s original meaning--we should be full and ready to correct and rebuke those who say otherwise in the most gentle, patient and humble way possible (2 Timothy 4:2).

Realizing that the husband was my elder, I respectfully and gladly held my tongue when my conscience allowed; however, once the words he chose to speak contradicted what the Bible says, my conscience could no longer allow me to be silent. Despite his claim that he believed the Bible is God’s inerrant word, he admitted that he believed that there are multiple ways to Heaven. When I asked him how that could be since Jesus specifically said in John 14:6 that He is the only way, he became very defensive and told me that I needed to have an open mind about things.

It has become very apparent to me that, in the last couple of decades, the United States (at least) has not become anti-religion but anti-Christianity. There has been a major trend towards having an open mind to everything and a closed heart to Christ. The Bible, however, calls us to not only open our minds but to open our hearts!

God does not ask us to leave our minds at the door. In fact, God is not above divinely providing intellect and rationalization to those who need it (Luke 24:45), but a heart that is open to God always produces a much more open and complete mind than a closed one. Romans 12:2 shows us that, when we are obedient to Christ and do not conform to the patterns of this world, He will transform us into a new person and change our minds to be more in line with His perfect will for our lives!

Do you belong to the “Open Minds, Closed Hearts” group like this old man does? Do you sometimes struggle with allowing God to transform you into a new person by transforming the way you think? Although this world says that freedom and unity are produced from an open mind to everything and everyone, an open mind is never truly free or open unless it has been transformed by an open heart to Christ. Throughout your day, make a conscious effort to do what you know God wants you to do and open your heart to Him. If you do so, He will open your mind in ways you could never imagine.