I want to share some of the lessons I learned in reading the works of John Eldredge and C.S. Lewis, some I found profound and deeply impacting.
The heart is central to everything in life. It is the axis about which revolves each individual, God, and Christianity. It is the seat of emotion, identity, and personal motivation, creativity, memory, and courage. Unlike the cold calculative mind, the heart wrestles with far more bloody and beautiful realities. Hence those who live from their minds alone know a detached and hollow existence--they are as emotionally and physically available as a computer. The heart inchambers our deepest thoughts and beliefs which then produce and are manifested in our character. Thus, the heart is the essence of you and I. But what is the most important thing that the heart can do? What is the one thing that makes its consciousness worthwhile? The ability to love. Anything done in life without love is worth nothing, and everything in life done in love serves to make life worth living. No matter what it is that you love, you could not do it without the use of your heart. However, a condition that may not be evident to many people, believing and unbelieving alike, is that their hearts are not alive and free. Their ability to make life worthwhile is stunted. We might as well picture them bound and gagged in a dark dungeon. The individual is more or less sleepwalking through life, as if under a spell—neglectful, blind, unsuspecting. Still smiling complacently perhaps.
C.S. Lewis shares this perspective: "Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years." (Weight of Glory).
One can find himself in many different kinds of spiritual bondage. Here is one test for the believer. Does the "abundant life" you’re always hearing about sound far-fetched to you? Is it something you honestly believe yourself to have found? Does the word "transformed" describe you? Or would you more readily label your experience as "forgiven." Maybe you’ve reigned in a few bad habits but more often you find yourself missing the mark. You know that you were meant to be more than you are, but the way things are going, it seems that you’ll spend the rest of your life trying and asking forgiveness for never arriving. You’ll make it to heaven, but you don’t expect to attend the awards ceremony…you never measured up anyway. You're stuck this way, and you can’t blame it on anyone but yourself.…is this how it ends? Let me say that it will be if Satan can keep you believing that this is all you’ll ever amount to—and that this is as far as Christianity goes. I hope that this isn’t the lie you’ve agreed with. I hope it’s not the spell you’re under. Because there is more to Christianity…a lot more!!
Not only did Jesus do something for you, he did something to you. His mission was to "set the captives free." Free from what? The heart that was so "deceitful and desperately wicked." The curse of sin. The part of you that always seems to sabotage your best intentions and hold you back from becoming the person God destined you to be. That part of you died with Christ. It died. It was nailed to cross with Him. "Count yourselves dead to sin."
Jesus gave you a new heart: "I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart." Ezekiel 36:26. Therefore "count yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Not only are you now spiritually alive, but did you know that your heart is good? Jesus couldn’t dwell inside it if it wasn’t…So if this is a new revelation, what does this mean for you? It means that you can dispose the lies. It means that you don’t have to be weighed down by discouragement and shame…Remember the Lion King? It’s a kid movie, I know, but it applies. Simba lost his sense of purpose; he fled from his destiny and from who he was meant to be because he believed the lies Scar fed him. In order to unveil the glory trapped inside him, he needed to be reminded of who he was:
MUFASA: Simba, you have forgotten me.
SIMBA: No! How could I?
MUFASA: You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba…you are more than what you have become.
SIMBA: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.
MUFASA: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king. Remember who you are.
Wake up from the spell. You can’t glorify God while you are dragging your feet in your failures. Don’t hide your light under the bushel anymore. Understand that your heart bears a glory, and the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection was to restore that glory. It isn’t prideful to desire this glory because it is a reflected glory…and when you shine, your Father shines—and that is essential! Excuse the use of fairytale again, but remember Aragorn? His glory was truly unveiled when he took up the sword that was reforged to assume his rightful place as defender and King of Gondor…and wasn’t it badly needed?—Yes, it was essential to the success of the fellowship’s mission and essential to restoring the kingdom Denethor had neglected. In our own Story, the restoration of your glory is just as essential. It's essential to the spread of God's glory. It's essential to effectively supporting the body of Christ. It's essential to all of the ways that your heart is supposed to function...And it may begin with remembering who you are in Christ.