This book of the Bible is probably the most emotional and vulnerable of all of Paul's writings. He's cries a lot, pleads for relational equity, talks of his own hearts struggles, opens up about an emotional breakdown, gets honest about his fears and insecurities, and basically goes for broke by handing them his heart on a silver platter to embrace or deface. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is tucked in this tear-stained letter to the church in Corinth...
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Loss of heart goes way back. It happened to the best and brightest. It happened to people who had astounding conversions, brilliant minds and fruitful ministries. I happened to people who had theophanies, were swept away into the seventh heaven, and survived venomous snakebites. It happened to Paul and he wasn’t afraid to admit it. Paul talks often of the heart, but mostly in regard to his desire to not lose it. I don’t have to wonder what his fear is in losing it. When you lose your heart, you lose everything.
The heart dies unless we become more spiritual people. I don’t mean religious or devout. I mean spiritual in the sense that we track with the other world. Maybe that’s where the term otherworldly had its origins. Try telling someone that though outwardly you’re wasting away, inwardly you’re feeling like a million bucks. Disregard their blank stare and continue on by telling them that every trouble you’re experiencing is going to pay off when you kick the bucket. If that doesn’t induce a crooked smirk with a rolling of the eyes, they’ve already blown you off and you might as well stop there. However, if they shake their head in disgust and accuse you of lunacy, share with them that the reason you have this perspective is none other than your fascination with fixing your eyes on the things that can’t be seen. Then piggyback on that thought by informing them that everything you experience everyday with your senses is a rip off and that what really lasts into eternity is everything that is out of sight. Gosh, I love the Christian life! It’s so simple to explain to people. I especially like it when people wrap this mystery into little pamphlets and distribute them to perfect strangers on the street.
The loss of heart occurs when Christianity doesn’t allow for mystery anymore. Loss of heart occurs when believers no longer believe that the unseen is the deepest reality. In this world, we don’t need blinders for better focus; we need blindfolds to shroud the alluring and seductive temptations to sell out to pragmatic Christianity (a system of safe substitutes for the risky real thing).