Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:18-26
Psalm 49: 1-11
Colossians 3: 1-11
St. Luke 12: 13-21
“The Red Heart”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Last week I started the first of five sermons reflecting on the Luther Rose of which is the symbol of the Lutheran Church. Once again I profess that this symbol is just a mere symbol that we don’t need to tie ourselves done with, but to those who willingly use the symbol, such as myself, when asked what is this symbol, a good response is to explain what each part means. By explaining each of the five parts of the Luther Rose you will likewise explain your faith, providing a testimony of what you believe. On the flipside, if someone asks you what do you believe and you find it difficult to find your words, reflect on this symbol and use it as a guide to help you provide a testimony of your faith.
Now at the center of this symbol is the cross, which is the absolute center of our entire faith and of which without it our faith is meaningless. Now that cross is black, not merely because the cross in of itself is a killing device used to murder our Savior and King, but because it takes on the sins of the world. It is for this very fact that the Heart is red.
Everyone who is capable of artistic endeavors knows that when you draw a heart, whether the physically accurate or the artistically more appealing version, that you are to draw it red. Red is the natural color that comes to our minds with regards to
the heart, for the heart naturally should always be red. If we were to reflect on a healthy beating heart then we would naturally envision it as red. For if the human heart was of a different color, then we would understandably differ that said heart is diseased, sickly, or dead. But a healthy living beating heart is red.
As Christians, we are to place Christ in our hearts for it is only through faith in Him that we are saved. To be more exact, the faith that we have with regards to our salvation is that Christ died on the cross to take on our sins; going to Hell in our stead. Thus, it is the cross that should be placed on the central throne in our hearts. Therefore, just as how the cross is the center and core of our faith, as individuals, the cross should also be the center and core of our very being, nested in the center of our heart.
And though this cross in our heart is filled with pain, the pain of the cross does not taint nor ruin the heart. In fact the pain of the cross is endalgia (endo + algia) not exalgia (exo + algia); the cross absorbs outward pain inwardly and does not outwardly expel pain from within. The cross does not injure our heart but in all reality takes on the sin which is wounding our heart.
You’ve heard the statement that in sin you are dead. God warned Adam that if he ate of the tree of knowledge then he would die, and the moment he disobeyed God and sunk his teeth in the fruit he died. Because of his sin, Adam is dead, and through this original sin which passes on to all humans we are all born already dead in sin. On top of that we have the actual sins we ourselves commit. All of which prevents our hearts from beating red, vibrant with life.
One common way of viewing sin is to view it as a disease. It is an all-consuming illness that infected every pore of our every being, so much so that every thought and action and word has been infected with sin. Sinfulness is not connected to humanity in that it is a part of it, but rather sin is an invasive species foreign to God’s all-good design. It is sin that corrupts the heart and taints it so that the human heart is no longer naturally red but a diseased black color.
When the cross enters this diseased heart, it absorbs the infection known as sin. Jesus who is on the cross is taking on the sin that is deeply rooted in our dead hearts. And as the cross absorbs the darkness of our hearts, the Holy Spirit breathes new life into our heart. By taking on sin, our hearts are brought back to life and the vibrant red color Adam had upon creation once again becomes the color of our own heart. The cross doesn’t kill; no more to us is it a killing device. Instead, the cross brings life and so long as the cross is nested at the center of our heart it will also keep us alive.
Therefore, sin is not a part of humanity; in fact it lessens our humanity. Before Christ, we are not fully human simply because sin damages our humanity. This is why before eating of the fruit Adam was indeed deemed good, but after eating he was no longer good. The sin he committed caused irreparable harm. But for this very reason we are also capable of proclaiming that Jesus, as oppose to us, is fully human for Jesus as God cannot sin and because He cannot sin nothing is damaging His humanity. Jesus is more human than us because unlike us He is sinless.
So as we keep on sinning, our heart grows darker and more damaged, but through the cross, Jesus takes away from us that which truly harms and lessens our humanity. The disease which attacks our heart and eats away at it is taken on by Jesus. The cross takes on the disease becoming blacker and blacker in sin while our hearts become redder and redder as it once again retains its former liveliness.
And again this is all possible through faith. The only reason why the heart is red is because of the black cross resting in the center. For within each of our hearts is a throne, and who ever sits on that throne is our god. For Christians, the one who is on that throne is Jesus Christ. But competing against Christ are things such as money, fame, family, security, humanity, etc. There are things that compete against the throne, dying to be the thing which sits at your core. This can be any of the fake gods of old, of those made up religions. This can be any of the newer fake gods invented through commercialism or peer pressure. Anything, absolutely anything, can be your god. Anything can sit on that throne, and what does sit on that throne will rule supreme. But compared to Jesus, all other things that can sit on that throne share one thing in common, none of them will ever bring life into your heart.
Whereas the cross keeps your heart a vibrant red, all other things that becomes to you a god are worthless for they are all wholly incapable of doing remotely anything for the heart. To a diseased heart, all false gods and dumb idols are meaningless for they do nothing to help the diseased heart. The only thing that
can help a diseased heart, a heart infected with sin, is Christ Himself. Thus, as Christians, nothing sits on that precious throne except Christ. Nothing receives our adoration and praise and faith more so than Christ. Nothing can enter into us and boldly proclaim to Jesus, who sits on the throne in our heart, get off my seat. For us Christians, this seat belongs to Christ alone, and it is in Him alone that we place our faith.
No philosophical idea, no amount of material treasures, no political system or prince, no angel or demon, no saint or sinner, no height or depth can compete for the love we have in Jesus Christ our Savior and King. We bow to no one but Christ alone. To the cross alone do we bow and give reverence. And when we must choose between Christ and anything else, if something demands us to choose, because Christ sits on the throne in our hearts, because Christ and the cross is the center of our very being, we will not fail to choose Christ always.
And likewise, nothing can separate us from the love that comes from Christ. Though we may become distracted by dumb idols, this does not mean that said dumb idols are withholding the grace of God. Christ is always at the ready to forgive you of your sins, He just asks that you place your faith in Him.
Now the love of Christ is unconditional. It has no criterion. It does not demand anything from you, for if it did then it would be a conditionally gifted love. Thus, because of the unconditional nature of Christ’s love, it is provided not because of who you are, but despite who you are. So as oppose to those who falsely claim that Christ’s love proves that he accepts who you are, it is more
proper to proclaim that Christ loves us despite who we are; aka, unconditional love. In addition, if Christ loved us for who we are then there would be no forgiveness of sins. For to claim that Christ loves us for who we are is no different then also claiming that Christ loves our sinfulness, and if that is true then He is no different from dumb idols which does nothing to our aching hearts.
But because Christ loves us unconditionally despite who we are, dying on the cross because of our sinfulness, he doesn’t accept our sinfulness but takes it on. He loves us so much that he places no conditions on His grace and instead, seeing our sinfulness, proclaims that He is going to die for our sake. He will take our burdens. He will hold the weight of the world on His shoulders. He will take on our illness. He will take on the blackness in our hearts. Thus, it is because of love for us that not only is the cross black, but that also our hearts through the cross is red.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, without you and the sacrifice of your Son we will still be dead to sin, but through the cross you Son took on our sins and the Holy Spirit breathed new life into our now beating hearts. Keep on taking our sins and filling us with your Holy Spirit, keeping us alive in faith. In your most holy name we pray: father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.