Early Acts: Cut to the Heart
Have you ever been cut to the heart? Moved so deeply by words and truth, it feels as if they’ve penetrated the deepest part of who you are?
As we began studying the early church this past weekend across all campuses, we heard that the very first followers of Christ felt exactly that as they listened to Peter’s very first sermon.
Why were they so moved, and why did they feel an immediate need to respond?
Because Peter spoke of the truest love, and love is the only thing that cuts to our hearts. God is love; so we were not only made for love, we were made by love. And while our hearts too often settle for lesser love, true love is what we long for. True love is what penetrates the deepest parts of who we are.
And the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and especially his resurrection—is God’s ultimate display of love. And that’s all Peter had to say when he got up to preach his first sermon. He didn’t need jokes or anecdotes or alliterative bullet points. And he certainly didn’t use shame or guilt or rage. You see, those tactics sometimes feel like they cut to the heart but really, they just make superficial, skin-deep slices. They may force a response that leads to temporary change, but it won’t last, and it won’t be good.
Pausing here to acknowledge that it may seem untrue to say that love is the only thing that cuts to our hearts. I get it. We have all experienced sorrow and grief that feel as if they’ve cut us wide open, split so far that it feels like we may never be put back together again. But when we look at the deepest sorrow and grief, the root is likely love. The loss of a child, a parent, a spouse, a season, a dream—we are cut to the heart by sorrow and grief because of deep love, the deep love we feel for what has been lost.
Our hearts are made for love, and our hearts are made by love. Love alone holds the power to cut to our hearts. And because of that power, true love requires a response. We cannot do nothing with love. We can either reject it or receive it. And like the first followers of Christ, we often ask: What shall we do? How do we receive God’s love? It feels too big, too powerful, too good to be true.
Receiving God’s love is to live our lives in response to it.
Peter knew that all he needed for that first sermon—and really all that’s needed for any sermon—is the gospel. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection tell us everything we need to know about God, who is love.
When I need to be reminded of what is true, the gospel tells me that God has all power, all knowledge, and all love:
I am faithful; I will always do what I say I am going to do.
I can be trusted—when you don’t understand, when it seems like everything is going wrong, when all hope seems lost.
I love you. There is nothing you have or have not done, are or are not doing, will or will not do that will stop me from loving you. You killed me! And I love you.
Love cuts straight to our hearts, and it always requires a response. God can either be rejected or received. To receive him is to live our lives in response to his love. And to live our lives in response to his love is to continually receive it.
Asha Junot is the Children’s Ministry Productions Coordinator at Summit Church. She likes sweet tea, is exceptionally kind, and loves the opportunity to care for others and dive into their stories. She also has a handsome hound dog with a lot of personality. Her favorite place to be is curled up on her couch under a fuzzy blanket with Bible, journal, and pen in hand and a mug of hot tea next to her.