If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” (Romans 10:9-11)
The condition and orientation of a human heart is critically important in the quality, capacity and fruitfulness of the life lived by the human with that heart. The biblical understanding of the heart is vastly difference from the way that our world sees it today. We see it as the center of our emotions (i.e. “follow your heart”) but the Bible sees the heart as the center of our will. So, what happens in the heart impacts all other aspects of a person’s life because their heart is driving the bus.
But do we care for and direct our own heart? What if there are things happening in our heart that need to be changed? How do we re-direct our own heart?
Each human heart needs 3 things—a treasure, hope and security—and by evaluating and swapping, if needed, our treasure and our sources of hope and security, our heart can be renewed and set on a new path that leads to rich, full, abundant life with God. This passage from Romans 10 shows us how.
First, it says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” What does it mean to say that Jesus is Lord? It means that Jesus is the most important thing in the world, and beyond, to us. It means that he is our treasure. The human heart loves, perhaps even needs, to treasure something or someone, but we usually treasure something other than Jesus. Therefore, whatever is our present treasure needs to be replaced with Jesus. How does that happen? By spending time with Jesus, reflecting on who he is and allowing, even encouraging, ourselves to fall deeply in love with him. And as we treasure Jesus, we are also treasuring God the Father and God the Holy Spirit for Jesus “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).
Second, this passage says, “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Another way to say that we have been made right with God is to say that we have been reconciled with God. Jesus is the One who reconciled us to God by willingly going to the cross and paying the full cost of forgiveness for all sins of all people for all time. Because Jesus has reconciled us to God, then we can live life with God, not in a future life, but right now. Though storms come upon us as we traverse the waters of life in this world, God lifts us up out of the chaotic waters into the boat of his divine protection. Not only that, God is in the boat with us. His presence calms and comforts us as the wind and the rain whips around us. We have hope because God is with us now and, one day in the future, he will dispel the stormy waters and the chaotic sea will be gone (see Rev. 21:1). Redirecting our heart means abandoning our present source of hope, even if it promises a comfortable life or future success, and embracing God as our present and future source of hope. With God, we have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Third, these verses tell us “As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’” What does it mean to never be disgraced? It means that we will always be safe. Henri Nouwen compares the life of a Christian with a trapeze artist who has let go of her swing and flies through the air trusting that her partner will catch her with a sure and certain grip. Abandoning our present treasure and hope requires our stubborn hearts to surrender to our gracious and loving God. But our heart will never do that unless it first feels safe. With Jesus as our treasure and his presence with us as our source of hope, we can begin to tell our fear-filled, trembling heart that we have a Catcher who will catch us, and we will be free to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, a child of God on the flying trapeze.
With God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as our treasure, our hope and our security, our heart is renewed and re-orientated and Jesus becomes the bright shining North Star of our heart who illuminates, directs and fulfills our life, making it immeasurably more than it could ever otherwise be.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being the God we can see and love, the faithful Son who reconciled us to our heavenly Father, and our Catcher who keeps us safe. Help us to fly with faith, hope and confidence in you. Amen.