The Politics of a Pure Heart

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Do you downplay the need for repentance in the hearts of the poor and oppressed?

 I’m reading through Exclusion & Embrace by Miroslov Volf… a classic and important work. I’m reading it very slowly with a highlighter… a slow comb – trying to read and digest… very meaty stuff.

The section that has me knee deep in reflection right now is ‘the politics of a pure heart’. It's a great title and a section that reveals amazing theology. Jesus comes to the poor and preaches repentance and Volf points out the abnormal practice of this. The poor are usually victims of oppression – so why do they need to repent? Shouldn’t the ‘oppressors’ be repenting and the poor be pumped up? But Volf suggests the Kingdom of God does not operate according to culture… repentance is in line with the perfect standard outlined in the Beatitudes.. no one measures up… even the most oppressed victim… If we preach a gospel without repentance to ‘the poor’ then we are merely following a worldly value system that replaces one oppressor with another (in their heart they want to oppress because they have been oppressed)… we want a different world – and that starts with a change of heart.

It made me reflect on my own natural tendency to downplay repentance… to really change the culture we must first change our hearts. Booth knew this. His work with the ‘poor’ included a strong call to repentance… tears, confession, forgiveness, restitution…He wasn’t just aiming for a nominal salvation but a full one… He wasn’t a communist, hoping to shift the world system for equality… He was ushering in a new Kingdom altogether…

So, you want to change the world? Let’s start with a pure heart…

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