Our hearts can close off to others without us even realizing. Some folks are oblivious to this skill of knowing when they are in danger of closing off, as its been the way they have “survived” life. Others are so in their heads, they are just stuck there, not realizing their own hearts betray them. I love how Paul spoke to the Corinthians:
“We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children, open wide your hearts also.” 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV
The greatest strategy to destroy community, lies within our own hearts! It is the capacity to “shut your heart” to others. When my heart is closed it is cold and withdrawn. When my heart is open my heart is warm and affectionate, drawing towards others and not pulling away. In studying this feature in community life, I have noticed that our gatherings are affected by this extraordinary and yet simple revelation.
Hearts open, means we are more likely to have an open spiritual experience together of Heaven. “Closed hearts” is a difficult spiritual situation; decreasing the presence of God.
We are all learning to recognize these unique relationship enemies and go after them. Here’s a hit list of enemies to watch out for:
*a fear of being vulnerable or known
*unforgiveness and in particular holding onto offences
*pride in not wanting to share your life or heart
*anxiety issues and isolation issues
*fear of rejection or shameful feelings
*avoidance of the heart altogether, resulting in a shut heart
*accusation from the Spiritual realm (although sometimes we can’t blame the devil for this as some people love accusing others)
*not feeling safe to stay open although this can be an excuse for some
Declare war today on your enemies of connection.
As you do, you will begin to see your relationships within community grow and flourish. Write up a prayer to read when you feel your heart pulling away and shutting down. Have a personal strategy to re-join the community connection daily in some way. Its so worth it!
God wants to teach us this epic skill of being open hearted ones, so we are aware of our own heart condition, whether we are open or shut or somewhere in between!
“My peace is the legacy I leave to you” 14:27 – The Voice Bible.
It’s surprising how many people walk around every day with little to no peace. Peace is absolutely vital to our inner well-being, and the gap we feel internally without it is just as detrimental as not having an adequate diet or nutrition. We were created for peace. We so need peace! Not the kind of world peace the world gives, but the kind of peace that is absolutely heavenly.
A supernatural peace from above that fills our hearts, our minds and even our physical bodies.
This is the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) bringing deep rest and resolve. I’m personally convinced a lack of peace is the cause of much of our current first world anxiety disorders.
The world can be an epically traumatic place! As New Creations, we are all learning how to host peace on the inside! True peace comes from only one source – the prince of Peace Isaiah called Him (Isaiah 9:6). He is the peace that fills our hearts and pushes out the trauma and concerns of this life.
“Not as the world gives”(John 14. 27), denotes a very different kind of peace! A peace that is based on intimacy through sonship and not on the things we can see or feel! A peace that is about relationship instead of performance!
We don’t have to earn it or work for it – it is a gift – even on the worst day imaginable.
Peace is the opposite of trauma. I see that there are two internal tanks we tend to operate from; one is the peace tank while the other is the trauma tank. They seem to go up and down based on our experiences. Ask any humanitarian worker or missional person and they will vouch for this.
When Jesus sends us out to do justice, it is always restorative. In other words, not just to bring commentary but to fix the problem. Not just to be a voice but to leave a legacy that is tangible. That legacy by nature is the peace of God.
How can we live on the devil’s doorstep, take ground from the enemy and do all the cool things He says to do without the perfect peace of God? The shalom peace of God is designed to be the foundation of our lives, and all that we are is to flow from that place. Peace, I believe, starts deep inside and is entirely essential to our new way of thinking. It comes from being made right with God and being made whole within. Peace is the by-product of our oneness with Him. As sons and daughters of God we have a right to feel His peace, know His peace and abide in His peace. It is indeed very, very tangible. Ask Him for more of His tangible peace right now.
How can you foster a life of deeper peace that affects your spiritual community?