I have a broken heart and I dare say, so do you, and everyone in the world. I am not talking about broken romantic relationships, although that could be true. Just look at how many Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies there are, but I think that is only the tip of the iceberg.
If there is one consistent message from Christianity, it is that humanity’s heart, the deepest core of who we are, is broken and needs saving. The evidence of our brokenness is all around us; we can cite examples of monsters such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam. Each generation has their own villains, men and women who despite our postmodern beliefs of relative morality will always emerge and demonstrate just how we are.
The late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge said that “The doctrine of the depravity of man is one of most intellectually resisted and yet is also the one with the most evidence.”
This is not to say we are all bad all the time. You have men and women who are capable of the greatest compassion – Mother Theresa, Amy Carmichael, David Livingston – who chose to leave comfortable lives to be with the lowest of the low to comfort those in suffering.
If there is another proof of our brokenness, just look at our desires. It is not a sin to want to try something new. It is a sin to chase after that desire, to be never content, to have just one more thing.
Yesterday, I was in the supermarket and I wanted to buy a steak. There was a customer next to me who was talking to the in-house butcher, but I saw that even after his conversation, the man was still indecisive. I decided to strike up a quick conversation, offering him my experiences in cooking steak – different marinades, different cooking techniques… (BTW, yes, we all wore masks.) Afterwards, we went our own ways – he got a thick cut and would try it on a pan, and I got something else. In this encounter, we both wanted to make a steak and learn or practice our cooking skills.
There is nothing wrong in hoping for a great meal. Subconsciously we all know that food is only part of the experience; there is also the person(s) whom we share the meal with, and the occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, etc). Food is great, but it was never the goal. My point: desiring a good meal is not a sin. Gluttony is.
Have you ever tried to fix something with the wrong tool? I have; I have been wearing glasses since I was 9 years old. For those who also wear glasses, who hasn’t had a screw pop out from the ear pieces or the nose pads at the wrong time? Worse is when that tiny screw is lost forever in the carpet, at the mall, or in the car. Who hasn’t tried to find some wrong way to fix it – wrong type of screw driver, duct tape, anything, until you can get to the optometrist to buy a new pair?
We may chuckle at that, but who hasn’t tried to fix the brokenness of our hearts the wrong way?
For some, we deal with the inward brokenness by dulling it – alcohol and drugs are never more popular today, even legal ones. For others, we fill it with one more thrill, and the next, and the next, and the next, until we lost count.
And what happens when our brokenness is expressed outwardly? “Hurt people hurt people.” The men who shot up theaters and schools were extremely broken people; they were vilified but when the truth of their painful backgrounds and experiences emerged, I think some of us started to pity them instead of continuing to demonize them.
I once commented on a friend’s Facebook post that there was no use taking away guns from people until our hearts have been fixed. In other words, until you fix the internal, you will always have problems with the external. The problem is: no one has the right tools, not you, not me, and certainly not the government.
Christianity has always taught that the human heart was broken. The prophet Jeremiah called it deceitful and wicked. In fact, the prophet Ezekiel even called it a heart of stone. Therefore, it ought to be no surprise that since we can’t fix ourselves, we have to look elsewhere for the solution.
In 1967, the world must have been stunned when South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard announced he had performed the world’s first successful human to human heart transplant. The patient lived through the process. (Sadly, the patient died from pneumonia after his immune system was weakened by the drugs.) Even better, yet, more transplants became successful, with another patient living for years.
While Barnard may have been the first to transplant a physical heart, the work of transplanting the spiritual heart predates him by 1930 years. Ever since the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, God has been at work transplanting His heart into every Christian.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis compared “Nice Men or New Men” – whether God was merely making us nicer people, or making us new.
But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.Mere Christianity.
Do you see Lewis’s point? God is not interesting in “fixing” our hearts to be nice people, interesting in social justice or whatever cause to save the world. He wants to save our souls – the inner core, not the outward. To do so, we need a transplant. We need a new heart, one that is not broken, but a pure one. The great thing about Christianity teaches is that Jesus is very happy to share His, and begin surgery in yours.