Change My Heart, O God
Change my heart, O God, Make it ever true;
Change my heart, O God, May I be like you.
You are the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me, This is what I pray.
Words & Music by Eddie Espinosa © 1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing
Bob Inglis changed his mind (and his heart). In his 12th year in the United States Congress, at the urging of his 18-year-old son, he agreed to revisit his view on climate change. From his own studies he discovered that climate change is real. He also met a scientist whom he came to understand as worshipping God by caring for the climate (and not anti-religion as he had presumed). This transformation led him to introduce legislation in congress to reduce climate change. He was “primaried” in the next election and lost very badly receiving only 29 % to his opponent’s 71%.
Changing one’s mind can be very costly and often takes more than a modicum of courage. Even more costly, however, as Bob pointed out, is the failure to change or grow.
I do not write about Congressman Inglis’s loss to discuss climate change or even the political situation he faced, but about change. Bob, a practicing Christian, observed that in the Christian faith tradition, transformation, that is, changing one’s mind and one’s heart, is a positive thing. I agree.
The prophet Isaiah proclaims that God is doing a new thing! (Is 43:19). The song Change My Heart, O God, above comes from Isaiah 64:8, acknowledging our need to be molded like clay in God’s hands. Jesus changed up old laws about retribution (Matt 5:38), relations with other races, such as Samaritans (Luke 10, John 4, etc.) and even with women, lepers, beggars, tax collectors and sinners. He reminds us that when we do anything unto the least of our siblings, we do it also unto him. (Matt 25:40). Our Wesleyan expression of “going on to perfection,” and the notion of “sanctifying grace,” demonstrate this commitment to change. Day by day, change and we are restored to holiness and wholeness. This affirms Bob Inglis’s observation about our faith. The belief in change and the hope to be shaped to be evermore Christ-like, does not make the endeavor easier. Our views become part of our identity, and change even in the presence of overwhelming evidence, and even God’s commandments can be exceedingly difficult.
In his sermon on Christian Perfection, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement notes:
No one, then, is so perfect in this life, as to be free from ignorance. Nor, Secondly, from mistake; which indeed is almost an unavoidable consequence of it; seeing those who "know but in part" [1 Cor. 13:12] are ever liable to err touching the things which they know not… The best and wisest of men are frequently mistaken even with regard to facts; believing those things not to have been which really were, or those to have been done which were not. Or, suppose they are not mistaken as to the fact itself, they may be with regard to its circumstances; believing them, or many of them, to have been quite different from what in truth, they were. And hence cannot but arise many farther mistakes.
(Sermon 40 - Christian Perfection by John Wesley © 1999 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology)
I so appreciate John Wesley’s words in this era of misinformation and “alternative facts.” Misinformation is not a new thing, although their amplification by social media and other sources may well be new. Yet, we can lay down the burden of carrying in our heart of hearts what we know to be wrong and embrace what God newly reveals to us with joy. There is truly a release that comes with shedding part of our identity informed of that which is wrong.
Part of being disciples of Jesus Christ, is being willing to grow, shedding what we once believed when newer, deeper truth about ourselves, our neighbors and our world is revealed to us. Wesley pointed to our reality using Paul’s words in the First Corinthians 13:12: We first “see in a mirror dimly, and know only in part,” but someday we will know fully.
Until that day, as we prepare for the coming of Christ into our heart, I leave you with more words of St. Paul:
Finally, siblings in Christ, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil.4:8-9)