Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Old Testament Heart or New Testament Heart?

I hear people talk about the heart a lot.

"I love you with all my heart."
"He's suffering from a broken heart."
"Put your heart into it."
"I'm speaking from the heart."
... blah, blah, blah ...

But with all the haze, I like the distinct approaches offered by the Old & New Testaments on the matter.

The Old Testament, written from a simpler world view, equates "heart" with all that is immaterial & internal. The Hebrew word frequently used literally means "kidneys". In other words... that mysterious world of things inside me I can feel once in a while.

The New Testament is much more ... ummm ... well... Greek! There are all these complex divisions in Greek thought that help understand the differences between thoughts, emotions, spirit, etc. Today we understand the mortal realities of the Greek model through our study of the brain (prefrontal lobe = will, neocortex - cognition, limbic system = emotion, etc.) And we understand our spirit through our experience, our theology, & ultimately - our faith.

I've experienced numerous times in which the Greek (or Western) approach has helped me explain the internal realities I or others experience. And yet, I've recently begun to experience moments in which the simplistic, more wholistic, Old Testament model is also pretty darn handy.

Here's an example... In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be enlighted to fully know the blessings of God. Is he talking about spiritual eyes, cognitive eyes, or emotional eyes? I say "yes" to all three. He is praying that our thinking, feeling, spiritually stewarding experience is one of enlightenment to God's blessings. He's praying for the eyes of our Old Testament heart... our "kidneys"... the whole kit-n-kaboodle!

What is in bondage when we live in sin? Just our spirits? Not in me. When I'm living in sin my spiritual flow, thinking abilities, emotions, & decision-making capacities all become pretty handicapped. When I live in sin, my whole HEART is in bondage. And when I draw near to God, my whole HEART comes alive.

Receiving the love & light of God seems a matter of that heart ... the whole internal ball of wax. So, maybe the next time I share Christ with someone, I'll ask if they'd like to invite Jesus Christ into their kidneys... hmmmm. (Or maybe I'll just stick with "heart.")

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