October 7, 2021

An Undivided Heart

Give me an undivided heart to revere your Name.
Psalm 86:11
It's easy to get bogged down in other people's theological musings. In most cases, they're well intentioned. But in some cases, they've also gone off on a tangent.

Most Christian theology makes extensive reference to the Bible—a set of 66 different books by many different authors and addressing a large number of themes. But amazingly, despite all the variety found in the scriptures, they can be boiled down to a simple theme: God's ever-broadening and unmerited love for humanity. If the theology I'm reading doesn't help me understand this, then it might be leading me astray.

Very few Christian theologians are wicked liars. But many seem to get bogged down in ideas that probably don't need to be examined too deeply. For example, I'm currently reading a classic book by A.W. Pink called The Sovereignty of God. The subject of the book is one I love to read about, because it shines a spotlight on grace. But Pink gets bogged down at times. 

Case in point, centuries after both of them had died, the prophet Malachi (1:2b-3a) said, "I have loved Jacob but I have hated Esau." The specific context here was an observation that the land Esau's descendants occupied was desolate, so the prophet was clearly speaking less of abject hatred and more of the forsaken nature of the countryside. But Pink uses this brief reference as a jumping-off point to speak of God's hatred for those who do not respond to God's call (and in his theology they do not respond because they cannot respond—they're not predestined to do so). 

Pink was unappreciated in his own lifetime and his attempts at pastoring churches almost always met with failure. He was seen as obstinate, judgmental, and divisive. But since his death, his writings have been adopted by many a fundamentalist Christian. Despite his intransigence, I hope he would be disgusted to see members of a hate group picketing funerals and other events with "God hates ____" signs (fill in the blank with whichever group or nationality the group happens to be targeting that day). 

We can always find reasons to go off on a tangent. And if we continue down those paths, no telling where we'll be carried off to. At least daily, our prayer should be that when we step out into the world, we keep our heart fixed on the love of God, and glorify the God of love in all that we so or do. Divided hearts result in mixed messages. And in God, the only real message is love

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
 Hebrews 13:9
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your Name.
 Psalm 86:11
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After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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