The Heart of a Follower of Christ
A post on the heartbeat of Christianity.
As Christians, we sometimes miss the mark in sharing how our faith is rooted in a relationship. Too often the emphasis is on correcting lifestyle choices for someone far from the faith, instead of communicating God's pursuit of their heart. Following Christ means your heart for God is lived out loud. He is less focused on what a person does that illustrates sin, and more interested in where the sin originates (Proverbs 23:26).
When Christians pray for a person to come to faith, it is for their heart to choose a life of freedom found in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Without a softness of heart to be open to repentance, it is impossible to make a sincere turn away from a former life, because our lives mirror what is in our hearts ( Proverbs 4:23).
So, it follows that when we love God, we can’t tolerate in our lives what He hates (sin). A relationship with Christ doesn’t mean He comes to take over our agency, as we always have a choice. However, when we allow His Word to infiltrate our hearts by trading our standards for His, we begin to want what He wants. The Word plainly explains that those things are always good ( Jeremiah 29:11).
A relationship with Christ involves living free from sin which is death, and being a slave to life-giving righteousness ( Romans 6:16-18). If you don’t know Christ or have been distant for some time, please know you are loved and precious to God. He wants you to know Him, and desires to heal and restore brokenness inside of you (Luke 4:18). He is not a God who delights in shame, and He wants us to be free from the condemnation of sin ( Romans 8:1). He wants your heart to change, and a life lived in Him will ultimately lead to a changed lifestyle to reflect it ( Matthew 7:16-20).
If you are a believer reading this, I hope that you walk in the truth that it is His loving kindness that brings us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Our focus on loving people helps to soften hearts, as well as our humility in knowing that God does the winning of them —not through shaming others for their lifestyle choices, but through the vessel of witnesses reflecting what it means to live for His glory ( Isaiah 43:10-12). One learns how to live like Christ by reading about Him in the Word. A good place to start is by reading the Gospels to know how Christ lived ( Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
To wrap up, our behaviors and/or lifestyles reflect what is in our hearts ( Matthew 6:21). God arrests hearts before He arrests behaviors. As believers who understand the cost of a life in rebellion to Christ, our prayer and hope should be that everyone gets their heart infiltrated with a desire to submit to Christ (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Pray for someone you know to receive the gift of salvation, and lead your life as a witness of Christ’s love for them in the meantime. And finally, for the increase of your faith, be watchful for evidence of how lives change to reflect a love for Christ when hearts do.