Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An Undivided Heart

So I'm growing. I can deal with that.

During this process of self-examination I continue to be faced with the stark reality of my isolation. Walking by faith becomes a straight-forward exercise when you surround yourself with God-fearing counselors who will unabashedly bounce your commentary and actions back to you as needed. Working on the road, amidst the decidely unreligious, makes me strain against my relativistic leash.

One of the key things that I find help my walk align my talk is striving for an undivided heart. Perhaps I'm just helped by the visualization, but knowing my heart and my motivations is how I keep my clarity and sanity in the world gone mad. It is common today to rationalize ways to accommodate our faith to the culture we imbibe. This is contrary to our identification in scripture as "a peculiar people." As disciples we have been sent out “like lambs among the wolves.” I'm not sure about you, but that would sure be easier for me if wool didn't make me itch.

Living with an undivided heart and an open mind is hard but I've found two aids to keep the walk and the talk in sync. Be deliberate and be articulate.

Knowing your heart and motivations is crucial to keeping on the straight and narrow. It is a necessity if you want your mind to be open to the world around you. The early Christans had this same problem when their monastic and ascetic faith was suddenly overtaken by rich, successful Roman Christians. The Roman Christians really wanted to find a way to live their faith, without giving up their influence in the world that was enacted through money and relationships. The new Roman Christians wanted to party and be faithful and the figured if their heart was in the right place, why wouldn't that be okay? It's the same rationalization I've heard over and over. I for certain have used it myself.

For much of life I have no problem with this, especially when it comes to interpersonal issues. You have to have an open mind about style, taste, and comfort level. If you link your own ideals of behavior, dress, adornment, worship-style, or whatever to maturity and depth of faith then you remove your ability to be impactful on those around you. Simply put, you stop being in the world. There is no excuse for elitism or formality in faith and God-following. I'll save the extremes of this (tolerance, relativism) for another post.

The earlier Christians had a problem with this blind rationalization which Paul argued for them. The crux of the argument is that the rationalizations can't be done in a vacuum. You still have to be able to interact and communicate those things you are being deliberate about with those around. For example, Paul urged them to consider if another weaker Christian might be led astray by this action. He wrote, “by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.” I'm personally not too keen on destruction so this would be a side-effect of my walk I'd rather avoid.

Being articulate isn't just about being able to tell others your story, your intentions, or about your faith and reasoning. It goes beyond your actual communication and speaks to the transparency of your life. You shouldn't have to actually defend your beliefs and movitations, they should be crystalline and obvious even to the casual observer. Don't shoot me, I know that's incredibly hard, and it continues to be my challenge daily. Thankfully Christ understood this intimately and gave us Scripture and Spirit.

In my own world-view, it is being deliberate which keeps me impacting my world (living in it), but it is being articulate which keeps me seperate from the world (not of it).  Maybe as you stew on this, you'll find your own ways to express how you straddle this particular razor.

In truth, I could write and write about the undivided heart and about being deliberate and articulate ad nauseum. This particular post is just to start giving the concepts some structure and start some thinking. Future posts will address and expound on these topics. I'd appreciate any feedback to guide this study.

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