‘The head and heart are often at war, and the former usually wins..’ – John Betjeman.
Heart versus head is a reflection on the subtle war going on today in the church and the need to move Christ out of our heads into our hearts (Col 1:27). War is prejudicial to mission, evangelism and discipleship. The war in the church especially in the democratic setting is like a tug of war, trying to get majority ‘of people and strength on opposite sides of a rope.’ There is a daily heart tug of war in the spiritual realm for our souls because as Christians, ‘we have Satan and his demons on one end of the rope and the Lord and His angles on the other (Eph 6:10-12, Jer 17:9, Rom 3:23).
The story of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin who helped Joseph of Arimathea entombed Jesus provides us a helpful reflection. Nicodemus, seeking light in darkness, is a very religious person who believes the wrong way and so does not see what Jesus Christ is all about. Nicodemus confession of faith points to a formal and general head knowledge about Jesus as ‘a teacher come from God, because no one can do these miracles which you do, unless God is with him,’ (Jn 3:2). Jesus does not trust in the head knowledge and doctrine of Nicodemus. Jesus unfolded to him the need for the faith and knowledge of the heart, a total new beginning, giving prominence to the necessity of being ‘born again,’ by saying to Nicodemus, ‘unless you are born from above you cannot see the kingdom of God (v3).
The conversion of St Augustine was first that of his head conversion for his heart and total encounter with Jesus. He abandoned his highly theoretical and philosophical model of reasoning for divine revelation. The warmed heart experience of John Wesley was basically based on the move of Christ from his head to his heart and this was the secret of the 18th century Great Awakening and a major historical heritage and identity of Methodism. The difference between the head and heart knowledge is to have a relationship with Jesus rather than just a formal religion. Nicodemus, St Augustine, John Wesley and many others had their philosophical and religious visions rectified by an entire personal renewal and revolution of their inner man. To win the war in the church, we need to be sincere and be humble like Nicodemus. The strategy for victory according to John Wesley is to ‘Go thou higher and deeper than all this! Let thy religion be the religion of the heart.’ We need not to mistake ‘ideas for saving faith, against a shallow moralism that substituted good works for true religion.’
Lary Moody’s exhortation to Paul Azinger, a former Professional golfer who was diagnosed with cancer at age 33 provides an insight on the urgency for us to say Yes to heart faith rather than head knowledge. Moody said to Azinger, ‘we are not in the land of the living going to the land of the dying. We’re in the land of the dying trying to get to the land of the living.’ The war that is going on in the church has to do with the basic question, ‘Where will you spend your eternity, land of the dying or land of the living, Hell or Heaven? The war is intense and is ongoing because there are people who are attending, leading church services and even performing miracles all across the world today that do not know how to answer the question. Happiness and comfort in this dying world are temporal. Beloved, true contentment, ‘answer to the six-foot hole,’ – assurance of eternity is in personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Beloved, say ‘Yes to Jesus’ with your heart today. JESUS WINS.