Saturday, January 9, 2016

Clockwork Heart: Are You Real?

Tick, tick, tick, tick....

Have you ever heard the story of the Clockwork Heart? No? It's the story of a couple who were very much in love, so much so that their favorite past time was to dance the hours away, gazing into one another's eyes. One day, a tragedy struck, taking the wife. The husband because of his grief over the loss of his "heart", decided to remake her out of cogs and springs. For months, maybe even years, he worked, trying to bring her back. In the end, there she stood before him, a nearly perfect copy. But all he could see was a creation of his own hands: a clockwork heart.

Tick, tick, tick, tick....

For the past few months I've been studying the life of Moses. He had it rough. I mean, if anyone deserved a vacation, he did. What a fickle people he led! How childish they were! How exhausting was their complaining. It seemed like no matter what happened, how faithful and selfless he was and how merciful God was, they always rebelled.

It amazes me that throughout history God's people could go from following Him to worshiping idols in the span of a single generation. And it happened several times, one of which was immediately after the death of Joshua:
 And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. (Judges 2:10-12 ESV)
Wow. Admittedly, the ones who "forsook" the LORD were their children and grandchildren, but you'd have thought that all the stories heard directly from the mouths of those who were there would have made a difference.

An even better example is that of the golden calf:
       When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him,Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”  (Exodus 32:1,4,5 ESV)
Wow. All Moses had to do was turn his back on the people and they were already worshiping their own version of "the LORD".

So what's my point? Well, it seems to me that in both these instances the people followed God as long as they were being watched. Once the truly faithful were removed from their presence, their true nature came out. Their devotion and "hearts of flesh" turned out to be an imitation-- just a ticking clock.

A real heart beats. It's alive. It feels. It understands. But a clockwork heart, though a pretty device, is not the real thing. A clockwork heart cannot give life. It cannot make you truly care. It cannot love.

It is dead.

Too many people in the Bible seemed to believe in and follow the LORD, but in the end proved just to be conforming to those around them. When given the chance, they gave up pretending.

And, as much as we would like to believe that this was an Old Testament problem, it's not. In fact, it is extremely active in the church today. There are many people who grew up in a believing family, surrounded by church-goers, who heard the Gospel from the time they were little, and who still don't have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Their heads understand, but their hearts are inactive. They are the quiet tick lost among the beats.

It's easy to recognize a dead heart or "a heart of stone", but not so easy to discern the hidden machine from the real thing since more often than not, they're not the ones we are looking for. In the church, we encourage evangelism and "reaching out to the lost". But what if the lost are sitting right here, in our midst, the whole time? What if it's your sister? Your best friend? Your Sunday school teacher?

Or is it you?

Do you avoid self evaluation? (One of the best books I've read that does this is Wasted Faith by Jim Elliff.) Do you find yourself comparing your righteousness to others? Are you hard-pressed to find faults in yourself? Do you wonder if you have to follow everything the Bible says? Do you pick and choose what to believe, writing certain Biblical commands off as "cultural differences"?

Maybe, if you are honest, you will say yes to one or all of these. If so, I'd encourage you to start investigating. Pull out that heart, grab a magnifying glass, and really look to see if it is what it seems to be. If it is, praise the Lord! Maybe you just have a few things to work on. If it's not, then get concerned: just because your family and friends are Believers doesn't make you one. As a mass murderer can hide in a neighborhood full of respectable people, so can you in a church. At the end of your life, you won't be declared righteous. You won't hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Instead you'll hear, "I never knew you."

I'm not saying this to scare anyone or make you doubt your salvation. On the contrary: I think we should rest in God's grace and have confidence in our Savior. But we do need to be like David, constantly seeking out our own faults, seeking change. We should be able to honestly pray with him:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)
If we can't say this, then we need a change. Maybe it's because we've grown lax in our devotion.

Or maybe we need a new heart.

Tick, tick, tick, tick....

Think about it.