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The story of Closed Heart

 I would like to tell you the story of Closed Heart.

Closed Heart saw people in need but did nothing (1 John 3:17). He said, 'They are not my problem' or 'I'm too busy' or 'They probably deserve it'.

Closed Heart was not a bad person. He was just like most of the people around him. He loved the people who loved him, and he did good to those who did good to him. He even helped out with the church appeal: 'Well', he thought, 'I'll do good to God, and he'll do good to me'.

He was a very loving husband to Mrs Heart and a good father to the little Hearts. He even texted through £10 when sports relief came on the telly; and then there was that girl who died when running the marathon (that did get through and touched Closed Heart). He also did a bit for the Alzheimer's society because his mum had suffered with that.

But one day Closed Heart heard of someone called Open Heart. He heard that Open Heart was different. At first he didn't like the idea of Open Heart; 'How can anyone live with an open heart? What about all that love flowing out. It could go anywhere. It could do anything. It is messy. It doesn't follow rules'. But then he heard that Open Heart loved him, even though he had done nothing for Open Heart.

Well, Closed Heart began to read some of the stories about Open Heart: about how he had shown love not only to those who liked him, but to those who nobody liked. He even showed love to those who hated him.

And as he listened and as he read, Closed Heart began to feel sad (1 John 3:20). He became aware that although other people - the people who he was with - thought he had a good heart, he actually had a bad heart. He was nothing like Open Heart. And he began to look at some of his attitudes, and he felt really sad. He thought, 'How could God possibly love me when I am like this?'

So Closed Heart listened more closely to the story of Open Heart. He heard how the Closed Hearts had hated him and killed him.  But Open Heart let them kill him. He had chosen to die for all the Closed Hearts (1 John 3:16). And he heard that Open Heart had said that whoever came to him could be forgiven, could become a friend of God, could have a new Open heart - just like his heart - and could live for ever.

And when Closed Heart heard that, his Heart was broken. 'How could Open Heart do that for me?' And he longed to have that new heart. He longed to become like Open Heart, to have an open heart, a heart that would love not only his friends but also his enemies; not only the cool, beautiful, powerful and rich people but the despised people and the rejects - even though he knew it would mean that it would cost everything. And he began to pray to Open Heart. He said, 'You say you have come from God; I believe you are the Son of God (1 John 3:23). You can do this. You can change my heart'.

And God answered his prayer. A miracle happened (1 John 3:22). It really was a miracle. Closed Heart became literally a new person with a new heart. It was as if he had been born again. He had become an open heart-ian.

So what happened? He started to love the followers of Open Heart - and it showed. After all, they had the same Heart. He prayed for them, especially for those who were finding it difficult to follow Open Heart. He helped them when they were in need (1 John 3:17). He even started to visit someone who he had always thought a bit of a bore, but he knew that they were lonely and, even though they were always complaining when he went to see them, they needed to know that they were loved.

And Open Heart-ian began to look out. He saw people who had got into debt and who were trapped; people who wanted to have a good time but were looking for it in the wrong place and getting in trouble on Saturday nights in town; he heard about young women in the Philippines who were having to sell their bodies because they were poor and knew no other option; he heard about people who were refugees, and about people who had nothing.

And Open Heart-ian decided to do something about it. He prayed for them. He knew that worked because Open Heart was the Son of God and Open Heart had changed his heart. He gave - and he gave generously. It did mean that some of the stuff he had had before he couldn't have now. And some of the foreign holidays had to go. But how could he spend all that money on himself when others were so much in need? And Open Heart-ian got involved. He had had this interest in care for people with Alzheimer's, and so he went to the local  care homes and asked if he could help out as a volunteer.

But Open Heart realised that the greatest need that other people had was the need to hear about Open Heart. Because only Open Heart could change their heart, and help them become friends of God, and only Open Heart could give them eternal life. Open Heart-ian wasn't very good at telling people about Open Heart, but he knew that people were involved in doing that all over the world. And he decided that he was going to pray for them, to give to the work and to do what he could.

And so Closed Heart no longer had a closed heart. He had a new heart: it was very small but it was an Open Heart. It didn't mean that he loved Mrs Heart or the little Hearts less. In fact he loved them more. Some of the jobs that he had refused to do, he now did. His vision for them grew. Whereas before he had wanted them to be happy and to make him happy, now he longed for them to know the greatest happiness: he wanted them to know God. Before he had wanted them to love him and to love the people who would be good for them. Now he longed for them to have open hearts, to be driven by love. Before he had wanted them to have life. Now he longed for them to share in eternal life. 


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