For the Troubled Heart

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, trust also in me.  John 14:1.

We’ve established throughout this study of John the purpose of Christ’s mission to earth, which was to reconcile man to God.  Now Jesus moves us into what that means as a  future hope.

Last night I listened to an NPR segment on religion.  The narrator of the program asked the question  “What is religion good for?” then proceeded to invite “experts” in evolutionary theory, scientist of all stripes and theologians to grapple with the question.  The dividing line was much as you’d expect it to be with those siding with science seeing religion as a development of natural selection and survival instincts, whereas the theologians saw religion as a pursuit of God.  Both sides entirely missed the purpose of Christianity.

Man rebelled against God not the other way around.  Granted some have reasoned that our rebellion was justified in that God arbitrarily set us up to fail, but this kind of reasoning ignores the point of who He is and what loyalty should entail.  First and foremost, loyalty includes love.  In one segment of the presentation on religion, they explained religion gave those who believe a higher calling, one which superseded all other loyalties, and gave one the ability to ignore natural human connections to body, family or culture.  Where they get this wrong with the Christian teaching is that instead of it encouraging to ignore the needs of others or disconnect from them, our Master commands us to love one another as He loved us.  The contrast between what other religions offer as a means to serving God or gods and what Christianity offers could not be more stark a contrast.

Jesus presents us with a hope and future, just like the prophet Jeremiah said He would.  He attempts to encourage His disciples with hope beyond His suffering and death—coming up within a day or so.  The end of all this struggle is a home with God.  He tells us to trust Him as we trust in God.

Yet we have a conundrum with part of the promise—mostly in understanding it not the content—because Jesus said,  “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going to prepare a place for you.  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

First off, what is the way to where Jesus is going?  He is.  So we know that part.  But this concept of the “house with many rooms” doesn’t jive with God as spirit very well.  If God is spirit, then we can conclude He isn’t tangible, can’t we?  Which means the house will be a spiritual one as well as the rooms, doesn’t it?

Not necessarily.  You see we barely grasp our own reality let alone that of God’s.  Jesus, in His talk to Nicodemus, wasn’t telling us what that spiritual world looked like, only that it existed and was wholly other than our own.  I have a theory that God’s universe, which includes our own but it not limited to it, is full of dimensions, but unlike many think today, they are not repeats of this one but new uncharted worlds unto themselves.  In our world they would be intangible or incorporeal, but in their dimension they experience much the same contact we do but in a completely different way.

I can’t prove it, it just makes sense to me that God isn’t limited to our grasp of reality.  So whatever form we are changed into (and we know that it is multidimensional because Jesus’ resurrected body was) it will span the spiritual and human realm.  This means God has a place for us prepared in the spiritual realm as well as this one, for all the prophets from Isaiah to Revelation speak of a new heaven and earth; the first heaven and earth pass away  to make room for it.

Jesus is trying here to encourage His disciples by telling them what they know is not the limits of what their future holds.  He promises them a place, a very important thing to Middle Eastern thinking, and honor because they stuck it out with Him.  What is the best means of living with an untroubled heart?  Trusting in God and His Son, Jesus, then set our hearts (what the Bible calls fixing our eyes) on the hope of Son of God.

What does trust mean to us?  Not an ephemeral hope or confidence that God exists and wishes us well, but that He’s intimately acquainted with us and longs to bless us.  Let’s leave this discussion with two important texts:

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the LORD,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”

Isaiah 30:18: Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion.  For the LORD is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for Him!

And one more that assures us God wants intimacy with His creation:  O Lord, you have searched me and You know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD.  Psalm 139:1-4.

Doesn’t sound like an impersonal God does it?  And, what’s more important for my argument, is that these are all from the OT.  Jesus revealed the Father’s heart to us by living it out loud in human form.  He promised a hope and future through the prophets, then in person to emphasize it.  Find courage in this because He’s intimately acquainted with all our ways and knows our loneliness, dead end streets, dashed hopes, broken dreams as well as our successes, loves, tastes, likes, joys, fun times, etc.  Nothing is hidden from the One from Whom we receive life, and this One promised us life to the full here as well as future when all is remade new.

“Trust in God, trust also in me.”

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