"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." [Ezekiel 36.26]
When the Lord instructed Ezekiel to give this word to the Israelites, he did so with the purpose of declaring his ultimate intentions for his people: "I will give...I will remove."
What will God give and what will that in turn remove? - Hard hearts!
For most of my Christian journey, I've often viewed this passage as a reference to God softening our hearts towards him. Now, there's no doubt that this perspective is indeed true, especially when we consider the lengths Jesus would go in manifesting the transformative love of God to all within earshot and touch.
However, over time, I've come to see that this perspective, though true, is incomplete. By this I mean, the hard-heartedness God promises to remove does not only have to do with our posture towards him but our posture towards each other. After all, Jesus himself affirmed that the greatest commandment was to love God and our neighbor (Mt. 22.36-40). So why wouldn't part of God's intention be, in sending the Holy Spirit, to transform the hard parts of our heart that we have towards others? The answer is, it absolutely is his intention! And this is why when we read the story of the life of the church, post their encounter with the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we find not only is a radical love of God sparked but also a radical love for one another, and this two-fold love changes everything for that community.
You see, when the Spirit comes, the Spirit cultivates a new social reality by providing a new spiritual identity, which leads to a new spiritual community. And this, if understood and embraced, is explosive in all the right ways, not just for them, but for us today.
Join us this Sunday as we explore what it could look like for us to embrace the transforming power of the Spirit in our life together.