It is a long time since I blogged - long summer, lots going on!
Just this week I have been challenged to think about what a restored heart looks like. That would specifically be a heart restored in the only way that works - by the restoration only God can work into a heart and life.
We live in a world no more scarred and marred than it has ever been since just past the dawn of time. In the USA at least there is no longer the thin Christian veneer that existed from our founding to cover the evil that springs from hearts in desperate need of restoration.
William Golding wrote Lord of the Flies. It is the allegorical story of some English schoolboys marooned on a deserted island who try to create a framework for society and governance with catastrophic results. The title of the novel speaks of chaos and the power struggle that exists between God's standards for living and evil. The "lord of the flies" is a reference to Beelzebub or Satan.
That's really the ultimate choice in every relationship, in every culture, in every government or any other structure of life. It's the choice between living under the standard for which we were created - to love God first and most and others next OR reverting to "type" by becoming the worst we can be in those same relationships, culture, government and other structures of life.
God alone can restore the scars of sin. God alone can renew brokenness at the heart level.
Just this week I have personally encountered the same sort of contrast Golding depicts in his novel. My faith is an in-your-face confrontation to those who reject and rebel against God's standard for life. My dilemma is fight or flight. Flight is the easy way. Fight requires standing for truth and right. It's by far the harder path. However to stand and "fight" is ultimately the reason God places His people in any culture. Jesus called it being salt and light. Salt and light both have positive effects. Salt preserves and brings flavor. Light pushes back darkness and reveals truth.
When I was walking our dog Susie in the dark last night, I saw shapes in the shadows. Only light can reveal whether those shapes and shadows are fearful or not.
Being salt in a rotten world and light in darkness requires action. Flight is not an option. Standing firm to be salt and light requires wisdom and effort. It requires seeking strength for the fight from God Himself. He alone has triumphed over sin and evil when His Son hung on a cruel cross outside Jerusalem and then rose triumphant over death and sin. God alone has the power to bring restoration to hearts broken by sin and shame!
Without God's intervention there is no remedy. He is the Creator for all of life. The perfect world He created is broken in every way because of sin. God alone can do something about that brokenness to bring true and total restoration.
The schoolboys lose the thin veneer of civilization that kept them from being the worst they could be. Left to their own devices, their true nature slithers forth in all its ugliness. They cheat, murder, lie, steal and spiral into total savageness. With no adult supervision, they revert to the worst kind of depraved behavior. They lose all restraint. They become on the outside all that their depraved hearts really are on the inside. They don't respect their Creator and they savage each other.
That is what life looks like without Jesus! That is life without God's restoration!
It is not that any of us becomes all that we could or should be in this life. None of us can, but we can start on that path with God's help. When God begins His work of restoration in my heart or yours, His work begins restoration in every way! And then the watching world sees the beauty of God's restoration whether they like it or not!