12th January 2011

Two Navels?

“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 (NIV UK)

The mood was jovial; my college friends were chatting over dinner in my home.  The conversations were wide-ranging and stimulating.  The subject of Christianity came up with numerous thoughts and opinions expressed.  I had to leave the table to arrange dessert but I was within hearing of the conversation.  I heard one of my friends ask the question, “When you are born again—do you have two navels?”  The question was not borne of malice, more of mischief, and was greeted by laughter from the other people round the table.  In the kitchen I was perturbed, I am a Christian and should be able to give an appropriate answer.  These friends of mine are intelligent people who are formidable in debate.  Remembering the example of Moses’ reluctance when God called him to go to Pharaoh and demand the liberation of Israel, I prayed to my Father for the response He wished me to give.  God promised to help both Moses and Aaron with the necessary words (Exodus 4:15).

As I approached the table with dessert, I had no idea what I was going to say.  I was pleased that the conversation had moved on and my guests were enjoying themselves.  Over coffee in the lounge I leaned over to my friend who had asked the question and said quietly to him, “By the way, John, when you are born again you don’t have two navels—you are given another heart!”  In my mind I was amazed because the thought and words were not mine!  My friend smiled and touched my hand—“Yes,” he said, “I understand.”  He looked thoughtful and pensive.  One day soon I do pray that he will understand.  The others had heard and concurred—they too had food for thought.  I thanked God for his swift and apposite answer.

It is true that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, have a change of heart.  Before conversion our hearts are described in Mark 7:21-22, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder…” and the repulsive list goes on in verse 22.  This is precisely how we are without God.  The evidence is all around when you turn on the news or read your newspaper.  Before you think “Yes, but I am not like that.”, consider the alleged words of evangelical preacher and martyr, John Bradford (circa 1510–1555), “There but for the grace of God go I (John Bradford).”  Jesus Christ performs the change in us.  He is our surgeon, changing the evil heart to one of transparency and light.

It is by the grace of God that our heart is changed to the heart that is described as pure in 1Timothy1:5.  This heart gives us an entirely different view on God and humanity—a heart of love and compassion, a heart that cares enough to put others before self. This heart gives praise to the creator God who has made it all possible through the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Thank you, Father, for your heart which is brim full of love for us; so much so that you offered up your Son, Jesus, for we who are unworthy and have sinful hearts.  You have by your grace given us new hearts—help us to use them to your glory.
Amen

Study by Irene Wilson 

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