Monday, January 11, 2010

Spiritual Pleege

The other day my brother-in-law Andrew was describing to me the process of fixing an aortic aneurysm. It made a lot of sense the way he described it. Almost as though, if it came right down to it, I could do it myself. You just make some judicious use of clamps to stop the blood from flowing through the heart, and temporarily reroute it through a bypass machine. Then you remove the damaged length of artery and sew in the bionic patch. A procedure comparable to what you might do if your exhaust manifold ever rusted out. The stakes, however, are high. Your aorta is the main artery supplying blood to your arms, legs, brain, and everything in between. And at the crux of the operation, you have to stop the heart from beating so you can do your needle work without ripping the whole thing to ribbons. The doctor orders, "Run the Pleege." Pleege is a potassium laden solution called cardioplegia which when run through the heart causes it to stop beating. The potassium in this solution makes it effective; it doesn't kill your heart, it just stops it from beating. When oxygen-rich blood is reintroduced to the heart, it will find its lost rhythm once more.

Proverbs 4:23 tells us to "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." The heart is the well-spring of our life in more ways than one. Yes, it is the pump that moves the blood that feeds our vital organs. But the Bible tells us that the heart is also the seat of our emotions and our will. Keeping our hearts spiritually healthy is the command of Proverbs 4:23, and is by and large the task of the Christian life. A spiritually healthy heart is one that beats in tune with our Lord's heart. One whose healthy, steady beat brings in from the hands, and eyes, and ears the love of the Lord, being experienced through the reading of the word, worship, prayer and meditation. And whose strong chambers process the grace we receive, and send it back out resulting in the fruit of the Spirit. This happens when we know the love and grace of our Father, and we know our status as accepted by Him. Jesus calls this life, and his goal is for us to know it. Knowing that we are the beloved of the Father, and that we are freely accepted is sanity's defense and charity's spring.

But there is no shortage of toxins to infect a healthy heart in this, our fallen world. Spiritual pleege is a false-world-view laden solution of lies that threatens to stop our beating heart. Spiritual pleege is a potent mixture of insecurity, false identity, legalism, license and pride. When these things are the nourishment of our heart, the springs of life are stopped. The worst lie of our fallen culture is when it tells us that this worldly pleege IS our life, and is good for us. The springs of our life are under active attack. This is why our leaders remind us every week to fight back daily with the weapons of the word and prayer. They are forgiveness-rich channels of truth, and we are to be vigilant in the use of this grace.


hardeewhites said...

Jeff, I love the sentence "knowing that we are beloved of the Father, and that we are freely accepted is sanity's defense and charity's spring."

I'm not sure what you mean by sanity's defense. Can you elaborate on that?

Alex White

Joel Pearce said...

Thanks for this, Jeff, just what I needed to hear. It's a great reminder that justification is our heart's lifeblood and powers our fight against sin in sanctification. So often do I need to hear words like yours that echo Paul, in so many words, "this is who you are in Christ, now live like it!"

Jeff said...

Thanks for the comments. Alex, I'd be glad to elaborate!

What I mean is this: It seems that all too often, my (sinful) default mode of living is more in line with salvation by works. That is, if I've had a "good day" spiritually speaking, then I feel more secure in my salvation, more loved by God, more confident in prayer and more generally holy. Whereas when I have a "bad day" spiritually speaking, I feel less confident, and feel like maybe I should wait to pray and ask God for something important until after I've earned his favor back.

It sounds crazy when I write it out like this, especially considering I never earned any favor in the first place! But this is how I often live, with this subtle theology of works ruling my life.

Constantly balancing out my deeds, and using them as the basis of my standing with God is a good way to drive myself totally crazy. Which is why I say that reminding myself of the gospel of grace is "sanity's defense." It is the only way to maintain my spiritual equilibrium, by reminding myself that God chose me in Christ despite my bad days, and despite my "good" days!