If you have been around our church lately, you know that our focus has been on discipleship, and on disciple-making. In that same vein, our “quote for the week” in the ePistle a few weeks back was on what it means to follow Jesus as His disciple, from Francis Chan: “The world says, ‘Love yourself, grab all you can, follow your heart.’ Jesus says, ‘Deny yourself, grab your cross, follow Me.”
In the middle of that quote from “the world” is one of the most popular axioms in American life these days, the call to “follow your heart.” In fact, if you google the phrase “follow your heart,” almost four billion results pop up.
In his book “Rethink Your Self,” Trevin Wax wrote: “Recent studies reveal 91 percent of Americans agree with this statement: ‘The best way to find yourself is by looking within yourself.’ In other words, if you want to discover who you are and what your purpose is, the place to look is inside your heart.”
Other common catchphrases that communicate this same line of thought would include: Go with your gut. Do what’s right for you. Pursue your dreams. Believe in yourself. You do you.
In our Oprah-fied world, all those things seem to make sense, but in reality they don’t jibe at all with what Jesus said when He called His disciples, then or now. And yet, so many people, even Christians, have bought into that idea.
But let us not forget that the Scripture tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) And Jesus came to redeem our sinful hearts, not to get us to follow them.
Author Jon Bloom writes, “Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.” And so, he admonishes us, “Don’t believe in your heart; direct your heart to believe in God.”
This is all the more significant, I think, as we approach the Holy Week that spans from Palm Sunday to Good Friday to Easter Sunday. We are reminded of the fickleness of the crowds in Jerusalem that fateful week. One Sunday, as Jesus entered the city, they “followed their heart” and cried out “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Just a few days later, some of the very same people were a part of the crowd yelling out “Crucify Him!” And they did just that.
Even if 91% of the world believes something, it doesn’t make it true. In fact, when we choose to follow Jesus we are making the choice, often, to go against the flow. I would encourage you to be careful about the ideas you pick up from the world, and that you choose to follow Christ, not your own heart. He will never lead you astray, and you will never regret faithfully following Him.
I am grateful to be your pastor, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.