I recently did a placement in a cardiology ward, wandering around with a stethoscope round my neck, listening to people’s hearts and trying to hear any irregularities they may have had in their heart beat. And it got my thinking about how there are lots of similarities between physical heart conditions and spiritual heart conditions.
People with heart conditions need to take regular prophylactic medication to increase their life expectancy. (I could launch into a detailed explanation of the various types of heart disease you can get, and the appropriate medication for each, but that would probably bore you. Suffice to say if you have heart problems it is probably worth being on aspirin or warfarin.) We have a heart condition. It’s called sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” We all have a heart problem. We need to take regular ‘prophylactic medication’ for our soul to stop sin wrecking our life – but rather than a daily pill the medication we need is daily time in the Bible, daily time in prayer, daily time in worship. We need to draw close to God and resist the devil. We need to admit our dependence on the Lord. We need to wash our hands and purify our hearts to stop sin getting a hold on our life and bringing death. (see James 4:7-10)
People with a dodgy heart rhythm sometimes need an electrical shock to snap them back into regular sinus rhythm. Sometimes Jesus needs to give us a spiritual shock to snap us back into the rhythm he wants us in. We have a tendency to do our own thing, and sometimes it takes a “shock” to bring us back to Him. If you look through the Old Testament there is a recurring theme that God’s people would turn from Him to the sinful ways of the nations around them. They would get out of sync with God’s words. So for a time God would allow their enemies to be victorious against them in battle. Then the message would get through to the Israelites that things went better for them when they trusted God, and they would return to Him and worship Him. In the normal run of things getting an electrical shock is bad news, but when you heart rhythm is going crazy it can become not just good but essential. Likewise God can use things that may seem disastrous to bring us closer to Him. Romans 8:28 reminds us that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”. The good news is that when we lose sync with God, when we go off rhythm, he doesn’t abandon us. He “shocks” us back into union with Him.
People with serious heart problems sometimes need to have their heart totally replaced via a heart transplant, or else they will die. Without Christ, we all have serious heart problems and face eternal death. But through the cross there is the offer of a spiritual heart transplant available to us. An offer of new life, a second start. In Romans 6:23 we are told of the glorious offer from God: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. There is a transplant available. Christ takes the wrath and punishment we deserve. We receive the glory and honour He is entitled to. That is the great exchange that makes the Gospel such good news.
We all have heart problems. Fortunately there is a great physician who can make us whole. Trust in Him today.