Things That Break God’s Heart
by Dale Reeves
Yesterday in our “Dangerous Prayers” series, our lead pastor Trevor DeVage challenged our church to be praying this prayer every day this week, “God, break my heart with the things that break your heart!” That’s not a safe prayer. It’s not an easy prayer. It’s not consistent with the God-please-bless-me-and-take-care-of-my-needs-and-answer-my-prayers-the-way-I-want-you-to kind of easy chair, Americanized, popularized Christianity that many of us have grown accustomed to.
Many in our church body are praying and fasting every Monday during the lunch hour, seeking God’s will for our personal lives, our church, our communities, our nation, and our world. If you want to know why we’re doing that, I would encourage you to read this by one of our remarkable thinkers and writers in our church.
Can I ask you today what kinds of things break God’s heart? If we’re going to pray that prayer, “God, break my heart with the things that break your heart!” we need to be ready to hear what God says truly breaks his heart. I certainly don’t claim to know everything that breaks God’s heart. I do know that when I want to hide from him, and go my own way, it breaks his heart as much as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they attempted to hide from him. If I wrote about everything that breaks God’s heart, this would be a very long blog today, and no doubt you would stop reading it. But, I’d like to offer just a few thoughts today on this topic.
Whether or not the candidates you voted for in the general election will ultimately win their respective elections, do you feel good about the state of our country? I doubt that very many people would respond with a “Yes” to that question. I have grieved all this past week as have many of my Christian brothers and sisters—not about who wins and who loses the presidency, and the seats in our federal and state governments, but about the state of affairs in which we find ourselves. Scandalous actions. Harsh accusations. Things that represent just the opposite tactic from what King Solomon once told us in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT).
In his prayer to God for wisdom, Solomon prayed these words in 1 Kings 3:9: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (ESV).
Every leader in our country should be praying that prayer. But we seem to be more focused on whether a particular state is red, blue, or purple, rather than whether or not they are concerned about pleasing God through the way they treat people, and enact laws and policies. It has been very sad to watch this kind of division in our country simmer for years on the stove and then this year boil out of the pot and spill onto every kitchen floor in America—scalding many lives, families, and churches along the way.
Division, Part Two
For me, there is one thing sadder than that—and that is the division I have witnessed among people who claim to be brothers and sisters in the church. We so easily forget that our struggle is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). COVID-19 has provided the perfect storm for Satan to carry out his destructive work in our churches, homes, and nation. He works so well when he can get us isolated from one another, doesn’t he?
One of the last prayers our Lord fervently prayed before taking our sins upon himself on the cross is found in John 17: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” (vv. 20, 21, NLT).
The purpose of the unity of Christian brothers and sisters is to be more like Jesus, and so that the “world will believe.” The number of brothers and sisters who have “unfriended” or “unfollowed” their “friends” on Facebook this year is truly astonishing. To quote a friend of mine, “People are watching how we as Christians act and deciding if they want anything to do with the God we proclaim to love.” Author Madeline L’Engle nails it with this statement:
“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
Sin breaks God’s heart. All sin. None of us are immune. Sin transcends Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, and progressives. One word for it in the Bible is lawlessless. Turning our backs on the sanctity with which God has created every life; being willing to discard lives that have been created in his image, sins of adultery within marriages, sins of homosexuality, sins of rebellion and godlessness, sins of racism, sins of sex trafficking the lives of innocent children, and we could go on. For a list of sins that were present in Bible times and still are happening today, see Galatians 5:19-21.
God’s heart breaks for those who are in bondage to sin patterns and addictions that not only destroy their lives, but also crush the families who love them. When you throw off God’s basic rules for what’s right and wrong, all other bets are off. When people say, “I can’t believe they did this or that,” I respond, “Unfortunately, I’m not shocked anymore. When you no longer believe in absolute truth from God, then anything is up for grabs.”
The solution regarding every single person is to own our own sin, repent of it, and confess it to God. Make no mistake, there is always forgiveness available to every single one of us, but the consequences of our sin must still be dealt with. We reap what we sow.
The United States of America has not learned the lessons God laid out for us in the Bible. What we see going on in our country reminds me of the period of the judges in the Bible: “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25, NLT). It is sad indeed when we have states saying, “We don’t need God in our state!”
Evangelist Vance Havner said this before he died in 1986:
“People used to blush when they were ashamed. Now they are ashamed if they blush. Modesty has disappeared and a brazen generation with no fear of God before its eyes mocks at sin. We are so fond of being called intolerant and broadminded that we wink at sin when we ought to weep.”
These words spoken over thirty years ago are even more true today. As we studied this past Sunday, Jeremiah grieved over the people of God. He writes in Jeremiah 8:21, 22, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” (NIV).
The answer for them was the same as the answer is for our nation. We as a nation have not repented. God wasn’t joking when he spoke of the great need for repentance through his prophets, and he still is looking for repentance from us. The truth of the matter is that there are consequences from bad behavior. Yes, through the blood of Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sins, but God still expects repentance even though the very word repentance is not trending today. There won’t be any long-lasting solutions until we as a nation repent, and until we as individuals confess our pride before him.
Are you burdened and grieved today over the things that burden the heart of God? Have you looked in the mirror this morning and begun with the heart surgery that God needs to perform on you, praying, “Break my heart, O God”?
I’m still voting for Jesus 2020. He doesn’t really need my vote—he’s already the Lord of the universe—but my hope rests in him and him alone. And that’s why I want to know what breaks his heart.