We watched "Machine Gun Preacher" this week, a movie I can't say I really recommend because there is too much foul language. Nonetheless, it was very interesting.
The Chris Voigt short version: An convict is released from prison to find his family has gotten religious. Though he rejects their change at first, he too becomes saved. He goes to Africa and upon seeing the tragic, criminal treatment of the children (slavery, forced conscription into the rebel army, etc, hunger, homelessness...) he decides to build an orphanage.
The movie finds him going back and forth between Africa and his home in the US. As he sees more devastation, his diatribes at home, including preaching at a church he built, becomes more angry. As the title of the movie indicates he carries a gun and isn't afraid to use it when saving children in Africa. His heart is shrinking. His family is breaking. Even in Africa he loses the trust of his team as they sense a hardening of his heart.
Of course, there is a turning point, found in the tender words of an orphan forced to kill his own mother at the hand of the rebels.
Philippians 1:9-10 says, "I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return."
In real life, all around me I see shrinking hearts. I have a friend who is anti- everything. He doesn't like the president, the congress, churches who don't preach politics, liberals of any type...and most conservatives. He's bought a generator, stocked his home with MREs, bought gold to use as currency when the dollar fails, purchased weapons (legally with a license to carry) and who knows what else. The world is coming to an end as we know it and he and his wife will be survivors. From his perspective he is being prudent. As I see it his heart is shrinking.
A shrinking heart squeezes out God. Anything that God is involved in will grow your heart. Your love will abound. When we do anything on our own strength our heart will shrink. We'll get cynical, burned out, angry, judgmental, impatient...
If you want to know if you're on the right track spiritually, track your love. If you love more...God is at work.
Read Paul's words again. He wants us to understand what really matters so that we may live pure and blameless until the world ends Christ's way. For that to happen love must overflow. It is one-third of the equation...love...knowledge...understanding.
Where is your heart?