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Obedience is Delight or Circumcised Hearts – 2

If obedience is delight, we don’t need to fear it or dread it. Delight comes out of a heart that loves. But our hearts only love in relationship. And relationships only last as long as we love. So then love is not a feeling, but a commitment to be in relationship–to take time to know the other, to build deep friendship–a covenant to choose the other and to honor the other. We don’t obey or listen to someone unless we love and trust, or at least admire them. Doing what you are told out of fear (slavery or abuse) does not qualify as obedience or love.

So Moses chose a metaphor to anchor the concept of Israel’s covenant with God. What was Moses saying by “Circumcise your hearts”? He wanted a graphic image so they would remember his words. Circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of his covenant relationship with God. It was something they saw everyday, but only them, something that made them different from other men. It was just for men as leaders (including their families in the covenant). For most of them it had been chosen for them, done when they were 8 days old–a sign of whom they belonged to, of identity. It was a safeguard to health and a safeguard to choice. They couldn’t undo it but they could ignore it.

So first, “circumcise your heart” has to mean that it is done for us, but we choose it. Our heart is the center of will, emotion and action. Our hearts are the first organ to develop. God uses it to refer to the center of being, of desire–where choices come from. It evidently has strong influence on the Prefrontal Cortex of our brains. Russian scientists discovered our heart energy can extend almost twice as far as the energy of our brain–25 feet as compared to 15 feet for the brain.

Secondly, Moses talks a lot about hard hearts–even saying God makes them hard. What he means is that God’s energy, His presence, affects us. Our response to love either softens or hardens our hearts. Just as the same sun melts butter but hardens clay.

Thirdly, God’s energy is love. Pure love energy is powerful–either life giving to good or destructive to evil. He has to protect us from His presence.

Putting all this together, circumcise your heart means: choose to cut away anything that might keep you from God’s love. As I said earlier, our hearts tend to get crusted over with shame, hurt, resentment, anger–however we respond to God and others. Offense is another word for sin. Do we give it? And how do we receive it? Offense tends to separate. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times not. Abel didn’t mean to offend Cain, but Cain took offense at him and killed him.

Lastly, my favorite definition for sin is separation. We have separation inside of us–our two natures, and between us and God. Most often our hard heartedness comes through the distance of mindlessness. We ignore Him. The details and cares of life, worries and ambitions crowd out a relationship with Him.

Moses’ “Circumcise your hearts” is like Solomon’s “Guard the avenues to the soul” and Jesus’ “Be careful how you see.” Today we call it mindfulness. Be aware! Pay attention! Wake up from your trance and realize what is happening. You are choosing actively or by default. As you build your character, or just let it happen, you are planning your future. In the end, everyone gets what they want–what they have chosen–whether their eyes were open or closed.

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Circumcised Hearts? Really?

Last night as I was cleaning up the kitchen I decided to try dishwasher detergent on the drains. (My friend shared how good it is at lifting crusted food, and I discovered it’s true.) Then I thought of the area behind the faucets and dripped some back there. This morning I came and cleaned, and it really did help, but I still had to use a knife to get most of the buildup behind the faucets. What is that? And how does it get back there? Dust and water crusts like that?

Of course you know that took me somewhere else–my husband got upset with me a week ago and tried telling me about it. Finally, I stopped him and said, “I can’t hear you when you talk like this.” His response was I couldn’t learn from him. I replied that I could and wanted to, but not when he was using that tone of voice and hurtful words like “bumbling through things” to describe me.

We all have emotions, and when our intense emotion matches our words we don’t hear our tone or our words. Perhaps if we didn’t let feelings build up but talked about them before they became so charged, we could deliver constructive criticism in a more loving way.

When we hear a shaming tone, most of us tune out and a crusty something begins to build around our hearts. So yes we all have crusty, build-up on our hearts, we’ve all heard shame and felt it in our hearts–the word God uses for our mainspring. It’s more than just feelings, it includes will and motivation. Desire and delight live there as well. It’s our center.

This morning I was reading about obedience in Deuteronomy and how truly important it would be to Israel in their promised land. Obedience used to feel like a heavy, horrible word to me, but I have learned that it has to come from delight or it isn’t even obedience. So I wrote in my journal, “If obedience is delight, we don’t need to fear it. Delight comes out of a heart that loves, but our hearts only love in a relationship.”

How does one  keep a relationship alive? One that delights in taking direction? There is no delight in obedience aside from trust and love! Not for broken humans!

I don’t even want to hear your input unless I trust you and love you, or at least admire you. Perhaps if I know your reputation I might trust you or admire you enough to listen to your thoughts.

That was God’s problem–(still is)–Adonai needed them to love and trust Him. So He continually showed His love and care for these slaves who didn’t know him. He wanted to live with them, even though it was very dangerous for them, because the possibility of Him consuming them was very real if they rebelled or even became too negative. His presence destroys entropy. That scared them. So they knew Him as fire by night and the cloud that led them and shaded them  by day. He provided water and food, protection, deliverance, everything to show them they could trust Him and move them into a love relationship with Him.

He even showed His power and majesty before he gave them His law. And the whole watching universe was amazed He would spell out His law, His way. They hadn’t even known there was “law” until Lucifer turned traitor. Their natures were in harmony with it, and everything they did came from delight and desire. They had no hard choices—-until Lucifer became the adversary and brought rebellion (sin/separation) into the kingdom.  That was the beginning of heart crustiness.

So Moses says in his farewell address (Deuteronomy), “Circumcise your hearts.” He wanted to impress them how important it was to have a relationship with Adonai like He had. They must honor their covenant. He was grasping for an image that they would remember and take to heart, and this was the best one he found. What does it mean? It must be important.

I don’t think I can do it justice in one or two sentences so I’ll continue it next week.

 

 

 

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