I am a heart-before-head person, for sure. Whenever I am with another person, or even attending some meeting where there are numbers of people I am always much more aware of what the heart of it is about before I engage with the rationale. I don’t tend to notice much about physical appearance. Some years ago now, someone spoke prophetically about me and said that I viewed people from the inside out. I think that is correct.
This is how I look at Jesus. When I see and hear Jesus, I know I that the heart of God is being made tangible – what we are seeing is the heart of the Father. Since God IS love, then it is the expression of pure selfless love. That can actually be measured. This love is willing to be beaten, shamed and then die on a cross as the worst of criminals. It was also measured by the things that happened during the three (or more correctly thirty-three) years of ministry.
One of the ways I read that is to watch Jesus’ responding to someone who butted in on an agenda that was in progress. Can you believe that “love” doesn’t take exception to people who butt in? There was a man whose friends busted up a meeting in a house by ripping the roof off to let their friend down. There was a woman who pushed through a crowd while Jesus was rushing to save a dying girl. There was a blind guy yelling and yelling on the side of the road leading out of Jericho. And wait, there’s more!
The truth is that I don’t like it when I have something I want to do and someone butts in. It happened to me today. And the more salient fact is that what I was doing wasn’t critical and urgent. And the people who butted in were in genuine need. There was something pathetic in me that wanted to be with them and get it over with as fast as I could. Being fulfilled seemed to associate with doing what I wanted rather than what they needed. I quickly realised this was a very bad deal. Not at all Jesus-looking. I urgently called out to God to help me to BE his heart and then I could connect with them on that basis. It took a few minutes for the old to pass away and the new to come, but it definitely happened. What is more to the point was the fact that it was much more worthwhile and personally satisfying.
It’s one of those funny things that identifies the presence of the kingdom of God. When we set aside self-preference and self-indulgence in order to make the heart of God tangible, the result is a sense of fulfilment that is much greater than just doing what you want when and how you want it (my rough definition of self-centredness). It becomes the story that happens when we trust what Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Whoever would save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will save it. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul.” (Matthew 16)