The human heart is a very complicated and multifaceted part of our life… And of course I'm not speaking of the organ that beats in our chest, though it is amazing. I'm talking about that part of us that combines our emotions, our intellect and our will. Our mind seeks to know God, we take that knowledge, mix it with the love in our heart, and that fuels our will to obey the Lord.
Christmas is when God came to man – There are many reactions to that. It opens the question: How do I react when God tries to enter into an area of my life?
It will be good to contemplate that as we enter the Christmas season.
There was a professor at Oxford that chose to ignore the fact that, because of the war, female students at the university far outnumber the males. He began all lectures to mixed classes, “Gentlemen.” Even when there were forty girls and ten men, he stubbornly addressed them as “Gentlemen.” One spring he found that his class consisted of forty-six girls and one lone man. He gritted his teeth, sighed, and began his lecture, “Sir.”
Sometimes, no matter what the facts are our heart is still unwilling to face the truth.
400 years of silence from God was shattered, as Jesus burst through that silence…nothing would ever be the same again.
Looking at some of the reactions to Christmas can help us reflect on our own heart attitude toward the Lord.
Sometimes we are unwilling to accept what the Lord desires. Why? There are several reasons, we will examine one today.
Fear can cause us to not want to move or accept what God has brought about. Consider the reaction of Herod.
Matthew 2:1–3 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
One time a bird got inside our house. It was autumn and I had a fire burning in the fireplace. The bird, gripped by fear flew up into the fireplace. No matter what I did it would not come down. Fortunately the fire was small and I was able to force the bird to come out. We singed feathers it was still able to be set free. But many times the fear that possesses us will paralyze us.
Fear can be a good warning, not only about danger, but also a warning of a problem with our heart. Consider:
Fear Because of: The Truth
Mark 4:35–41 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Notice, the disciples were afraid because of the storm, but then they became very much afraid, why? Because they understood the truth; it is a scary thing to be in a boat during the storm, it is a much scarier thing to be in a boat with the living God! This is a good fear, however as we know the story of Herod, he shows an unhealthy fear.
Fear Of: The Truth
In Acts 7, we find Stephen giving testimony about Jesus Christ. The Jewish leaders were very frustrated, having gotten rid of Jesus…they thought… They now had to put up with the great miracles that his disciples were doing in his name. Stephen confronted them with the truth and because they feared the truth their heart was unwilling to receive it. When Peter earlier confronted many Jewish people about missing the coming of their Messiah, many choose to receive it, repent and began a relationship with their God. Here the reaction based on an unwillingness to receive the truth is a tragic one:
Acts 7:54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
The Scripture goes on to point out that they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him. King Herod was fearful of the truth, that's why he was troubled. What happens when our heart is gripped by fear and makes us unwilling receive the truth? In the days to follow we will examine what King Herod does.
For us today perhaps it would be good to take a pause and as the Holy Spirit to examine our to see if we have any unhealthy fear of the truth. Our heart needs to be willing to receive whatever God desires.