As much as the phrase “coming out” is familiar to us nowadays, a new phrase – a “change of heart” is seen and heard all around us as well. Almost daily in the news there is yet another church leader or politician (often high-profile individuals) who are “coming out” with a “change of heart.” The media is giving these conversations a significant amount of air-time. I think there is good and bad side to having this “change of heart!” It can go only one of two directions!
Jesus requires a change of heart when we follow Him wholeheartedly. In Matthew 11, where Jesus Himself spoke to the crowds about John, Jesus was upset towards the people in the cities who had heard the gospel yet did not repent. They did not have a change of heart! Yes, Jesus got upset!
Then He began to censure and reproach the cities in which most of His mighty works had been performed, because they did not repent [and their hearts were not changed]. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes [and their hearts would have been changed].” Matthew 11:20-21 (AMPC)
Repentance means a change of heart. To walk away from those things which are displeasing to the Lord. God requires it from all of us. It is great to hear and see how some pastors/leaders/politicians recognize the need to repent for all the wrongs which have been done towards the LGBTQ community, over decades and decades. For too long this community has been judged, ridiculed; and therefore they have become a marginalized group of people. I have listened to a few sermons (not nearly enough) from pastors in my city who will say from the pulpit how sorry they are for the past, and how the church has hurt the LGBTQ community. I seem to hear more politicians and non-Christians asking for forgiveness in the media, and unfortunately, not enough churches coming out with this change of heart. Repentance and asking for forgiveness for judgement and ridicule IS the right thing to do! It is characteristic of a person with a changed heart! And remember, it is up to the LGBTQ community if they want to change their hearts as well! We can’t control that! God waits for each of us to be willing to experience healing. Often, Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” He wants the individual to declare his/her need and choose to be responsive to the healing He is offering.
We, as Christians, have to acknowledge the tragedies in our recent history. The tragedy and the facts are: so many people believe that Christians are hostile towards the LGBTQ community – and it is time to change this. A true change of heart, for us as Christians, means a heart of stone is changed into a heart of flesh:
And I will give them one heart [a new heart] and I will put a new spirit within them; and I will take the stony [unnatural hardened] heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh [sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God], That they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20 (AMPC)
This is the change of heart I believe will make God smile. Christians in the church need to have a change of heart towards the LGBTQ community. Could being sensitive mean we are willing to be honest about what we have done and how we have hurt them? And could being responsive mean we repent and are willing to change our attitude, but not our biblical standards? This is why we all need to pray like David, in Psalm 51:10-13 (AMPC):
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.”
We need not point out the flaws of others, but we must acknowledge our own. We must have an attitude of humility! This is the first step in restoring relationships! Asking for forgiveness paves the road to restoration. The sad part is, however, that not all people will respond in a positive way. But still we must ask for forgiveness. This will free us. Then, we can let go and let God!
Asking for forgiveness paves the road to restoration.
The second part of a changed of heart, is that we must use caution while determining our motives. Is it to please people, or to please the Lord? Is it fear based? Fear of men? The sole purpose of a changed heart is to ask the Lord to teach us His ways, so that all sinners shall be converted and return back to Him. Psalm 51:13 (AMPC) reminds us,
Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.”
Too many people, like Saul, have a change of heart only borne of the need for man’s approval. They fear people, rather than God! 1 Samuel 15:24 tells the story:
And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.”
Living for God’s approval is better than living for man’s applause. Let us use caution:
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination [exceedingly disgusting and hateful] to the Lord.” Proverbs 17:15 (AMPC)
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:10 (AMPC)
God looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 15:16b (AMPC) tells us,
… for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
God calls us to take a stand for Him. Therefore, a “change of heart” can never approve any unbiblical practices. A changed heart will always aim to be obedient to what God is asking us from His Word. Yes, to love is certain. To apologize and ask for forgiveness is certain, too! Yet approving or compromising on any ungodly behavior is not! If you have had a change of heart, what were your motives? The right change of heart is not approval of any unbiblical lifestyle, but rather acceptance of the individual.