My husband and I had the opportunity to do some teaching and ministry with a group of friends in Singapore over Zoom. We love being able to connect in new ways with people we love across the globe. Our Singapore Zoom meeting is just one example of a number of beautiful virtual gatherings through which we have been left in awe of the way that God is moving in his children.
We started with a short exercise — what we call an activation. We asked each member of the group to think about the type of room where they would like to meet with Jesus. Some envisioned cozy sofas, swinging hammocks, or large windows with a beautiful view. Others likened it to a cool coffee bar or a comfortable lounge.
Next, we instructed them to ask Jesus where He would like to meet with them. (And this is not saying any of the initial places were “wrong.” We were simply seeking a different perspective.) This is when things got interesting. Almost every person sensed a change from the place they initially imagined. As each person described the new room, which was unique to them, a theme began to emerge. One saw a very simple room where there was nothing to distract him from the presence of God. Others felt drawn into God’s presence in a deeper, more meaningful way. One even found herself being led into a singular tunnel where she knew she would encounter more of God. Throughout these descriptions, one word was repeatedly used — undivided. Undivided attention. An undivided heart.
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)
God doesn’t want part of us. He wants all of us. He doesn’t want areas of our hearts to be stuck in darkness or pain. He wants us to be free, and this requires an undivided heart. He’s not some scary taskmaster cracking the whip. He’s a loving father who wants his children’s hearts to be healed and overflowing with his love.
When our hearts remain divided, things get messy. It’s like Paul says in Romans 7:18-19: For I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. I think most of us can identify with Paul’s sentiments, but how do we end this internal battle? There is only one answer. We must be filled with him, and only an undivided heart can be completely filled by its maker.
The daily, personal struggle of each individual Christian is challenging enough; but what does it look like when the entire Body of Christ reflects the fallen nature more than it does the love that flows from being united in Christ? Well, it’s not pretty.
Let me put it this way — the Church (and if you are a Christian, this includes you as well as me) has a divided heart. It exists in a perpetual state of disunity. If we accept that the Church is indeed the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), then we must also acknowledge that we have allowed God’s own heart to be divided. And we wonder why the Church comes across to the world as hypocritical and judgmental? We don’t know how to love.
The more I witness Christians attacking each other over differences in worship style, doctrinal understanding, or even political affiliation, the more I grieve. I’ll say it again. We don’t know how to love. If we can’t love each other, how will the world know that God loves them?
When the Church cannot reveal the true nature of God’s heart, it is disempowered — virtually useless. There is a reason why Jesus specifically prays to his Father for unity of the Body. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:22-23). If Jesus prayed it, we can assume it matters — greatly.
Right now, as the Church is facing new challenges and deep divisions, we have an opportunity. As individuals, will we allow God to come into the dark places in our lives, to touch our broken hearts and make us whole — to fill us to overflowing? As a body, are we willing to be patient with those who are in process just as we are? Are we willing to love, even when it is hard — to welcome those who don’t look like us, worship like us, or think like us? Jesus leaves no alternative. Love is the only way forward. Any other agenda is counterfeit.
Whatever your denomination, or non-denominational affiliation, will you pause and consider how God might be asking you to align with his heart? Let him show you the places where your heart is divided. Allowing him to touch our own hearts gives us compassion for others who struggle. Compassion is what the Church and the world need right now. It is an extension of God’s heart.
Friends, we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Will you let him love you, so that you may be his instrument of love? As the Apostle Paul said, it is the most excellent way.
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:19-21
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Shay Mason