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Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself. – CS Lewis
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Perhaps one of the most countercultural ideas that Christ introduced was that the Father, Our Heavenly Father, values our heart.
It certainly wasn’t what the Jews were expecting.
They expected their Messiah to come with flame and sword to break open the empire of Rome and restore Jerusalem’s former glory. Instead they received a Messiah who seemed much more interested in the state of their heart than their zeal for tradition.
We’d already seen hints of this in the old Covenant, “man looks at the outer things but God looks to the heart,” said Samuel, and Ezekiel prophesied, “I will give them a new heart.” But within the telescoping of history it’s easy to neglect how foreign the idea of the heart was to Judaism. Within the Jewish paradigm, the focus was on faithfulness to the law, temple tradition and outward purity. With His focus on the Spirit, the family of God and holiness, Jesus not only completely inverted this paradigm but redefined these terms to mean entirely different things.
If the Jewish worldview was oriented around outward appearance, the Christian worldview is oriented around our internal reality.
And in scripture the foremost image for the internal reality of the heart is that it is the house of the Father. “Don’t you know” wrote Paul, “that you are the dwelling place of God?” Continue reading