Renovation Of The Heart - Part Two


Part 2 - Renovating The Parts Of Me

Cause and Effect:  We are all familiar with the events that took place at Columbine High School in April of 1999. No one will ever know why the two young men did what they did, as they took their own lives. However, there has been great speculation as to why. What do you think could have possibly motivated them to commit this atrocious act?

Rank the options below from the most likely cause (1) to the least likely (9):

_____Upbringing by parents

_____Company they kept

_____Medications they were taking (Prozac)

_____Movies, music, and other media influences

_____Judas factor - they were destined to do it

_____A choice made from their hearts

_____Their gender - boys are prone to this kind of violence

_____Peer pressure or a dare

_____Taunting from perceived enemies at school (other teen groups, teachers)

A certain expert stood up to check (Jesus) out, saying: "Teacher, what shall I do to receive eternal life?" Jesus responded, "What does the law say? How do you read it?" And he answered: "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." And Jesus said, "Well, there you have your answer. Do that and you will live." (Luke 10:25-28).

Readers Digest once ran some helpful articles on the different parts of the body: the ears, lungs, feet, stomach, to educate readers on how to better care for their physical health. If you have ever taken classes on health and anatomy, then you know how complex the human body is. Caring for your spiritual life can also be complicated and hard to understand. Part 2 will introduce you to the five major parts of human nature and the role each plays in our spiritual formation. Jesus identified these parts in Luke above: heart, soul, strength (body), mind, and neighbor (social dimension).

While you read this section, think about the two young men at Columbine. We cannot know their hearts like God can, but we can gain some insight on why people do good things and bad things by looking into the teaching of Jesus. What they did cannot be undone, but we can learn from their experience. We will see that when we pay attention to Jesus' double commandment of love, addressing all the dimensions of our human nature, incidences such as Columbine can be prevented.

Prayer:  Dear God, help us to understand our hearts. We want to love You with all that we are. Teach us how to love You with our hearts, souls, strength, and minds. And God, help us to learn to love others, too. Renovate our every part!

Defining The Parts Of Me - Part 1

Just as Readers Digest did, let's do the same for our souls, which encompass all the parts of our bodies. Jesus created us with five parts that all work together to influence the outcome of our life. Let's see what is really going on in our spiritual life.

Here we will lay out a simple definition of each part. Then we will look at how they work together.

"Our Heart"

The heart is at the center and boss of our lives, the CEO, big man on campus. It is where we make choices: "Yes," "no," "I don't care," or "I care." It is where we choose good or evil. It is the place where sin is chosen. The Bible refers to the heart as the "spirit" or the "will." While other parts of our lives influence the heart, it is the heart that ultimately chooses.

Heart issues:  Our hearts are pulled in many directions, often several times a day. Think for a moment about the ways in which your heart has been tugged in the last few days. Have you thought about or received invitations to participate in activities that would press the limits of your sense of right and wrong? How have you reacted to these pressures?

"Our Mind"

The mind works night and day. It's separate from the heart, but it's constantly trying to make suggestions to the heart about directions to take. Our mind is made up of two sections: thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts - Our mind imagines and perceives, enabling us to think about many things and consider their relationship to other things. For example, people used to think the earth was flat. Today, with the same kind of mind but more information, people think the earth is round. The mind may be right or wrong about what it perceives, but it is the mind that ponders things.

Feelings - Our mind not only thinks, but also feels. Our mind determines how we feel about what we think. Our mind may completely understand something, but we may have a different feeling about it than everyone else. We can like or dislike it, agree or disagree with it, be comfortable or uncomfortable with it, care or not care about it.

Think about and feel this

Going to summer school so you'll have a lighter load your senior year.

     Do you understand the idea?

     How do you feel about the idea?

Being drafted into the army to defend your country.

     Do you understand the idea?

     How do you feel about the idea?

Prayer:  Father God, our hearts are the center of our lives. We want our hearts to choose You and Your ways. Renew our minds so that our thoughts and feelings choose You and Your ways, too. We want all of our decisions to make You pleased.

Defining The Parts Of Me - Part 2

"Our Body"

The body is what you think it is and much more. Jesus says our bodies are our "strength" to love God and others. They are our presence in the physical and social world and are stimulated and affected by everything around us. With our bodies we recognize others, and they recognize us. We receive our bodies from God through our parents, and these influences make us the kind of people we are.

When our hearts make a choice, our bodies carry out that decision. They can get us into a heap of trouble as they have a "mind of their own." Our bodies often act before we think. Even though our bodies are essentially good, not evil, they are prone to sin. The apostle Paul calls our bodies "the flesh." Galatians 5:17 states "The flesh wants what is contrary to the spirit (the heart) and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in opposition to each other, so that it is impossible for you to do what you really want."

The good news is the apostle Paul also says our minds can be renewed, and so can our bodies. He says, "Didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

"Our Social Life"

God created us as social beings. Whether we like big parties or just hang out with one friend at a time, we are hardwired to connect with others. We may avoid contact with others for fear of being rejected or hurt, or maybe we just want to be alone. Either way, our social life is very important to us. We can try to ignore it, pretending that God and people don't matter, but it just won't work.

Whether we are introverted or extroverted, there's a component in each of us that yearns for connection and calls us to relate to other people. This element is as much a part of us as our hearts, minds, and bodies. Jesus says a social life with God and others is the central goal of life. That means a life full of love.

Studies have shown that infants who don't receive love and attention by their mother or others will be wounded for life and may even die. Children must bond with their mothers or with someone in order to take on a healthy self-identity and develop normally. Rejection, no matter one's age, is a sword thrust into the soul that has literally killed many. Numerous people have experienced rejection from their parents when they got a divorce or from a friend who betrayed or embarrassed them. It is very important to have a healthy social life.

The quality of our social lives affects the other parts of our lives - our choices, our inner thoughts and feelings, how we feel about our bodies, and even our actions. Having and maintaining a good relationship with God and others may be one of the most difficult assignments we have as human beings, but Jesus tells us it is the most important and is possible through Him. This is what the church is all about. As the church, we are Christ's body, His presence on earth today to love people in the manner He did when He was here. Now that's a life of purpose!

Exercising the body of Christ - Think of someone who feels discouraged or rejected and call or email this person with a word of encouragement.

"Our Soul"

The soul is the whole person. It connects all other dimensions or parts (the heart, mind, body, and social dimension) together to form one life. The soul is all parts working together, pretty much without thinking about it. As a matter of fact, we don't think about it until it doesn't work.

The soul needs reformation as much as the other parts. The power to reform the soul comes from the heart. With God's help, the heart accomplishes this by redirecting the body in spiritual disciplines and other types of experiences. For example, one of the key spiritual disciplines is worship of God. When our hearts instruct our bodies to worship God, this helps to reform our souls to be like Jesus. More on this will come later.

Now we have a basic understanding of the five parts of our human nature.

Prayer:  Lord, understanding how You made us will help us understand how to live for You. We choose to use our bodies to love and serve You. We choose to connect with You and with other people in love. We give You our whole selves - our very souls. Reform and redirect us in Your way.

How The Parts Work Together To Make Me Who I Am

Our actions never come from our hearts alone. Although our hearts ultimately choose the actions we take, each action involves all the other parts of our human nature as well. Most of the time our hearts make decisions because of the pressure put on them by the other parts.

All these other parts: the mind, thoughts and feelings, the body, and the social life, shape the heart to decide. Left alone with our good intentions, we will lose the battle of growing into the people Jesus envisions us to be. This is because our hearts, or spirits, are not strong enough to overcome the pressure of the other parts. Jesus said it well: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). Even if our hearts want to follow what is good, right, and best, our flesh puts so much pressure on us to do what is wrong and harmful that we will likely lose the battle. Only if the five parts of us (heart, mind. body, social life, and soul) are aligned with God do we stand a chance.

Carefully read this three times in a row - slowly.

Our actions do not change who we are but express who we are

Our actions do not change who we are but express who we are

Our actions do not change who we are but express who we are

Three times the charm - As you read this statement, how do you feel about it? What does it mean to you? How does this statement ring true in a particular situation or area in your life?

Jesus said it best: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). The apostle John really understood what Jesus was getting at when he wrote, "So, my dear children, don't let anyone divert you from the truth. It's the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah." (1 John 3:7).

Hypothetically speaking - Let's say hypothetically that you divulge an embarrassing secret about one of your friends to someone else. When you are confronted for doing this, you say, "I blew it!" By saying that, you imply, I'm not the kind of person who does such a thing. As painful as it may be, the apostle John is saying that in fact you are the kind of person who does such a thing - because you did it. Our actions express who we are as whole people. But take heart because this applies to the good stuff we do, too.

Life Away From God

When we do not have God controlling and directing our hearts, our hearts are at the mercy of the other parts of our nature: our mind, body, social dimension, and soul. So, even though the heart knows that gossiping and breaking a confidence, for example, is wrong, it often makes the choice to do it anyway. Why? Because the rest of us is weak and for some reason we enjoy the feeling of gossip, the feeling of sin. This is a life focused on pleasing ourselves versus getting in tune with God.

Unfortunately, our relationship with God is often our lowest priority and God will allow us to do what we want - to be happy according to our own ideas. But we miss out on His presence, His guidance, and the joy of intimacy with Him. Pursuing happiness according to our own ideas may be sinful, and the great danger is that we may eventually drift away from Him altogether.

Life Under God

A life that loves God looks very different - the complete opposite - of a life that is self-centered and moving away from Him. Here is how the apostle Paul describes the difference between a life that is self-centered and one that seeks God: "Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them - living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end, Attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored . (Romans 8:5-8).

Once we trust Christ with our lives, He will come in and strengthen our hearts so we can choose what God wants. From this point of divine intervention and power, the other parts of our lives - the mind, the body, the social part, and the soul - are transformed to be obedient to God's plan. This will happen instead of our conforming to the world's plan, which always leads to death.

The point - Our spiritual formation happens as all five parts of us grow to look more and more like Christ. Such transformation cannot be accomplished by putting pressure on the heart alone and is not the result of mere human effort. We need God's power for help and His grace for the many mistakes we will make along the way.

Prayer:  God, it's amazing. We are starting to see why our hearts need to be renovated. If we don't have the strength of Jesus Christ in our hearts, then our bodies, minds, social lives, and souls will run free, doing as they please - or as we please. Strengthen our hearts in Christ and use Your grace to change all five of our parts.

Wrap Up

Defining The Parts Of Me - Part 1

     The Heart - the part where all decisions are made

     The Mind - the part that thinks and feels

Defining The Parts Of Me - Part 2

     The Body - the physical part with all its senses

     The Social Life - the part that is hardwired to connect with others

     The Soul - the part that connects the other four parts together

How The Parts Work Together To Make Me Who I Am

     Life Away From God - when we don't have God in our lives controlling and directing our

          hearts, our hearts are at the mercy of the other parts of our nature

     Life Under God - when we do have God in our lives controlling and directing our hearts, our 

          hearts transform the other parts of our nature

Rethinking cause and effect - We've looked at the conditions of lives that reject God and are self-centered, and we've looked at lives that are constantly moving toward God. Go back to the Columbine High School case study and think about your rankings in light of what you have read. Apply what you now understand about the five parts of people that need renovating and how they work together to produce a transformed life.

Prayer:  God, we're IN! Turn us inside out. Give us Your strength and Your life so we can be in the middle of the big thing You are doing in our world. Put the Jesus label on our hearts. Change our focus from doing to being. We are part of the renovation revolution!

Next week:  Choose one:  Self-worship or self-denial