** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **
Something funny is going to happen tonight. The Vancouver Canucks will play the Boston Bruins in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. From the time the national anthems play, right before the drop of the puck, I’ll be on the edge of my seat. My mind will be focused, my eyes locked on, my whole body ready to cheer, jeer, or boo, as events unfold. My heart will be engaged. I will yell and holler and make a fool of myself by getting so upset about a game. But it will grip me, engage me, affect me.
Why in the world would this be? I’m not even a Canucks fan (and goodness knows, like any Christian, I’m definitely NOT a Bruins fan!). So why would it grip me? Maybe we could chalk it up to the sport of hockey. Except that’s not right either. Last night I was overjoyed to see the Mavericks demolish the Heat and their thugs team. But I’m not a basketball fan, or a Mavs fan. So why would my heart be engaged by such irrelevant foolishness?
The short answer is that I don’t know; I just simply don’t understand my heart and why it reacts the way it does. The long answer has to do with Eve and Adam eating a piece of fruit, and plunging the world and all their children into the disordered chaos that we know as life.
One of the things I came to see early on in my pursuit of theology was the Noetic effects of sin. That’s the doctrine which says that our minds don’t work like they should–our thoughts are corrupted–because of the fall. What came much later, but I now see with even more clarity, is the emotional equivalent (although I don’t know if it has a name). What I have observed in myself is that my heart–the centre and source of my affections and desires–is fundamentally disordered.
The classic contrast illustrating this is the Saturday night hockey game to Sunday morning church. On Saturday night I’m engaged and excited, jumping up and down, raising my arms, calling out spontaneously, enjoying every moment. On Sunday morning I struggle to stay focused and I’m embarrassed to lift a hand or make a noise that isn’t ‘pre-approved.’ How sad that my heart finds more to delight in in a useless game than the glorious gospel of God become man, crucified for sinners, risen to given us joy and life!
There are many more examples. Why am I quicker to cry because of a movie than because of my sin? Why do problems with our house make me sadder than problems with our marriage? Why, when I talk about Jesus, do I care more about what people think of me than I care what they think of Jesus? Why am I so often driven to despair by the smallest of problems? The list goes on and on… The things that I know matter most don’t affect me most and the things that affect me most often don’t matter at all. My heart is disordered.
Of course, the only remedy for this is the gospel. My heart is just like everything else in creation. Though it was created to be ordered, because of the fall it is subject to futility, corruption, and disorder. But the gospel makes all things new. The gospel promises the Spirit of God ‘circumcising our hearts’ and making us new creations in Christ. The whole of our life now is a process, a growth, becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Not just in the ways I think or in the ways that I act–but also in the ways that I feel. I want my heart to be like his heart. I want to be moved to love and compassion and anger by the things that move his heart to love and compassion and anger.
I pray that if God gives me more time on this earth, it would be a journey towards Christlikeness of life, thought, and emotion; that my disordered heart would be increasingly ordered after his own.