Part 3: Having a Soft Heart
I am conscious in my last blog I didn’t address whether thinking creatively is an attribute that can be taught. Well, maybe not. However, I do think that it can be modelled and an environment can be created where risk taking is positively encouraged. But as well as really seeing and thinking differently, a pioneer also needs a soft heart. This is because our motivation for introducing not yet Christians to God should always be love. This sounds obvious but in my experience Christians can be motivated by all sorts of reasons that are more about their own hang-ups and misapprehensions than a desire to reveal the God who loves them enough to die for them.
When you have messed up big time and then experience the all-encompassing love and forgiveness of Christ that can redeem the worst of our fears and failings, faith is no longer an intellectual proposition but the only reality that matters. This is what we should be sharing with those who have not yet met Jesus. However, I don’t think going through hard times is enough in its self. It’s true that suffering can lead to a greater sense of compassion but it can equally cause a hardening in attitude toward others. It is something I have to keep asking myself. Are my struggles causing bitterness and a determination to never allow myself to get hurt again or, in the words of Carly Simon, do I ensure, “there’s more room in a broken heart”?
Maybe imagination is the key to avoiding perfectionism that prevents the possibility of future pain. If I can put myself in the shoes of others and imagine what it feels like to be poor, hopeless or in pain, then I will ensure my heart remains fleshy and does not easily turn to stone. Or perhaps it is about remembering. So much of the stories, rituals and festivals God instructs us to keep are to help us remember. Remember who we are and what He has done to save us. This is why we need to be in community. We need other people to remind us of how far we have come and just how much of the transforming work God has already completed in our lives. Yes we must forgive those who have hurt us but maybe it’s good to remember how we felt so that we can come alongside others who are suffering in humility and love. In this way we are imitating Christ, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
As I write this I am conscious that I am struggling with my own questions about what motivates me to do what I do. Is it an awareness of my own inadequacy? Do I feel I have to justify God’s love? Am I afraid of not meeting others expectations of me and ultimately being rejected by them? And if I am honest the answer is probably yes! But hopefully mixed in with these by-products of my fallenness and sin there is also a desire to want to please God just because He is worthy and to see His kingdom come because I know that is our only real hope for healing and wholeness. I don’t think anyone can be sure that their motives are 100% pure but I trust that God can work with that. Pioneers don’t have to be perfect, just honest and faithful. Well, if not, then I for one am stuffed!