The Radically, Unprotected Heart

On the last blog I made some comments about a book I’ve just finished reading titled Chasing Francis . I’ve appreciated what others added to that discussion about the emergent conversation. And I for one would be thrilled to find out I’m misunderstanding that conversation and that the ever-present Jesus is more at the center of it than I can see and it is not just a recreation of another system.

Be that as it may, I wanted to share something from that book that I thought was incredibly incisive. The author refers to Simon Tugwell as the source of this perspective of difference between the heart of a disciple and one schooled in religion.

The first is the radically, unprotected heart:

“It’s to live dangerously open, revealing all that we genuinely are, and receiving all the pain and sorrow the world will give back in return. It’s to be real because we know the Real.â€

The second is the defended heart:

“It’s a guarded and suspicious spirit that’s closed to the world. It sees everything and everyone as a potential threat, an enemy waiting to attack. It shields itself from the world.â€

I love that contrast. I think Jesus wants to transform us to the radically, unprotected heart so that we can live authentically and freely in the world. The flesh and religion seem to produce a defended heart that tries to protect ourselves at all cost. But as people become more transformed in their relationship with Jesus the radically, unprotected heart emerges with such grace and beauty and profound impact on those lost in the world.

Please don’t think you can choose the first over the second. You can’t. I don’t want anyone to think that an unprotected heart is how we’re supposed to act. It isn’t It is the fruit of Jesus changing us on the inside that frees us to live more like him in the world. The radically, unprotected heart is the fruit living in him until we know with increasing certainty that we are safer in him than we are protecting ourselves. I want more and more to know the dangerous beauty of living in the world with an unprotected heart, because of my certainty that it is in his hands every day that I live.

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10 Comments
  1. kent October 25, 2006 at 11:01 am

    Wayne, this seems to be the very stuff Father has been speaking to me this year. I will also say it is feeling like another layer being peeled away so that I can live in His freedom. There seems to be much coming from the emergent conversation like this. You are right when you say this is not just something you go out and produce. If that is what they are trying to convience people to do out of a sense of duty it will fail I am afraid. But at least they are asking these questions. Most Evangelicals seem to be going the way of Battle Cry. Stand Up and be Counted. Yell louder.

    The book I am reading has much to say on “living Undefended” but this only being possible as we are captured by God, the one who loves us wholly and unconditionally and knows all things. As that happens we learn what it means to live out of our True Self with Him as the center, instead of living out of the false self. Only as we learn to trust Him in this love is any of this possible.

    Here is how Richard Rohr says it:

    “The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this effect me?” or “How does my self-image demand that I react to this?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads to an implosion, a self preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and the emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and for the moment. It takes alot of practice.”

    He talks about how the first gaze unfortunately most of the time is seen from the false self. This seems very consistant to my experience a lot of times. The false self is always interested first in defending it’s turf. I do feel this changing in me today and all I can attribute it to is the work of Father in my life in dealing with issues of control. Control of the situation and of people. I know I would not have gone here on my own. I’m learning that opporating from this place of thinking I can control or that I need to control things distorts everything. I can not possibly see the reality of the situation from that place. Only as I learn to live undefended can this happen.

    It seems that it this idea of living undefended is how Jesus exposed the utter illusion of the so-called-powerful thinking they were in control. He turned the thinking of the world on it’s ears. Defending ones self can be done by anyone. Living undefended is something that only He can accomplish in those who have come to the end of their own ability.

    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. I think it is only in this God reality that Matthew 5,6 and 7 make any sense at all.

  2. kent October 25, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    Wayne, I will also add this to give my opinion on the question of, is it just a move to another system? It might be. But for me when I look back over the past 17 years outside the system I have gone through many phases. The first one was to create a smaller mini version of what I had left with some minor improvements. We were hearing some wonderful things from the Spirit about Father’s unconditional love. He was exposing the falicy of obligation based religion to us all. There were many other things being exposed and reveled to us. We still at first tried to fit it into some type of structure and system. Thank God every attempt failed and let us down. I say all of that to say this, what if what many of them are doing is still an attempt to prop up the system they still see as relevant? If the system is not and that is what they are doing it will fail them also.

    I’m hearing some things from some of them that have helped clarified some of the questions that have been a cry of my heart to God. Issues like, poverty, inequality, justice, death, war, Western greed, and the hopelessness in the world that all of these things exploit and that only a loving all knowing God has the answer to. Some of these questions I have heard from them I believe have been stepping stones the Spirit has shown the light on in my life for me to walk on in my journey.

    I hope there will be many of them that find their way through the system(if it is a system they are after) to the only one we were ever called to commit our lives to.

  3. kent October 25, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Wayne, this seems to be the very stuff Father has been speaking to me this year. I will also say it is feeling like another layer being peeled away so that I can live in His freedom. There seems to be much coming from the emergent conversation like this. You are right when you say this is not just something you go out and produce. If that is what they are trying to convience people to do out of a sense of duty it will fail I am afraid. But at least they are asking these questions. Most Evangelicals seem to be going the way of Battle Cry. Stand Up and be Counted. Yell louder.

    The book I am reading has much to say on “living Undefended” but this only being possible as we are captured by God, the one who loves us wholly and unconditionally and knows all things. As that happens we learn what it means to live out of our True Self with Him as the center, instead of living out of the false self. Only as we learn to trust Him in this love is any of this possible.

    Here is how Richard Rohr says it:

    “The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this effect me?” or “How does my self-image demand that I react to this?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads to an implosion, a self preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and the emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and for the moment. It takes alot of practice.”

    He talks about how the first gaze unfortunately most of the time is seen from the false self. This seems very consistant to my experience a lot of times. The false self is always interested first in defending it’s turf. I do feel this changing in me today and all I can attribute it to is the work of Father in my life in dealing with issues of control. Control of the situation and of people. I know I would not have gone here on my own. I’m learning that opporating from this place of thinking I can control or that I need to control things distorts everything. I can not possibly see the reality of the situation from that place. Only as I learn to live undefended can this happen.

    It seems that it this idea of living undefended is how Jesus exposed the utter illusion of the so-called-powerful thinking they were in control. He turned the thinking of the world on it’s ears. Defending ones self can be done by anyone. Living undefended is something that only He can accomplish in those who have come to the end of their own ability.

    Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. I think it is only in this God reality that Matthew 5,6 and 7 make any sense at all.

  4. kent October 25, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Wayne, I will also add this to give my opinion on the question of, is it just a move to another system? It might be. But for me when I look back over the past 17 years outside the system I have gone through many phases. The first one was to create a smaller mini version of what I had left with some minor improvements. We were hearing some wonderful things from the Spirit about Father’s unconditional love. He was exposing the falicy of obligation based religion to us all. There were many other things being exposed and reveled to us. We still at first tried to fit it into some type of structure and system. Thank God every attempt failed and let us down. I say all of that to say this, what if what many of them are doing is still an attempt to prop up the system they still see as relevant? If the system is not and that is what they are doing it will fail them also.

    I’m hearing some things from some of them that have helped clarified some of the questions that have been a cry of my heart to God. Issues like, poverty, inequality, justice, death, war, Western greed, and the hopelessness in the world that all of these things exploit and that only a loving all knowing God has the answer to. Some of these questions I have heard from them I believe have been stepping stones the Spirit has shown the light on in my life for me to walk on in my journey.

    I hope there will be many of them that find their way through the system(if it is a system they are after) to the only one we were ever called to commit our lives to.

  5. ben October 26, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Wayne. How about some menudo this weekend? great stuff! For me it is definitely the “breakfast of champions.” Amen to your posts and to Kent’s. Too many search for a something/system rather than that someone–Jesus!
    SEMPER FIDELIS
    ben o/

  6. ben October 26, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    Wayne. How about some menudo this weekend? great stuff! For me it is definitely the “breakfast of champions.” Amen to your posts and to Kent’s. Too many search for a something/system rather than that someone–Jesus!
    SEMPER FIDELIS
    ben o/

  7. Larry November 2, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Somebody has to guard the heart. I try, but my efforts are limited to what I can see. So I tend to just build walls. Simple to build and easy to maintain, but not very porous.

    What is strength? I have ideas, there are societal ideas, and then there’s God’s idea. I don’t really know what that is, but I have hints. It’s terrifying, this kind of change, but if I were any good at managing my life I wouldn’t need Jesus. If I knew how everything should work I could just ignore him, but God’s purpose is relationship. Hence, dependency. A life that doesn’t depend upon God isn’t a relationship.

  8. Larry November 2, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Somebody has to guard the heart. I try, but my efforts are limited to what I can see. So I tend to just build walls. Simple to build and easy to maintain, but not very porous.

    What is strength? I have ideas, there are societal ideas, and then there’s God’s idea. I don’t really know what that is, but I have hints. It’s terrifying, this kind of change, but if I were any good at managing my life I wouldn’t need Jesus. If I knew how everything should work I could just ignore him, but God’s purpose is relationship. Hence, dependency. A life that doesn’t depend upon God isn’t a relationship.

  9. Heather December 19, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    I was led to your site by someone suggesting that I take a look at your book, He Loves Me, and I started reading it online, then decided to go exploring. I am glad I did and plan to explore more and after Christmas do some ordering. I am not sure I understand the whole emergent church thing, but perhaps it is because I got saved 5 years ago after hating God for 40 years. I am still sorting out God issues. But I am blessed with a pastor that does not seem to have a church like you mention here. Our church is an incredible place of love and healing. In fact my pastor spent two years talking with me until I could sort out God and decide I really did need a savior. My first comment on walking into his office was,

  10. Heather December 19, 2006 at 11:50 pm

    I was led to your site by someone suggesting that I take a look at your book, He Loves Me, and I started reading it online, then decided to go exploring. I am glad I did and plan to explore more and after Christmas do some ordering. I am not sure I understand the whole emergent church thing, but perhaps it is because I got saved 5 years ago after hating God for 40 years. I am still sorting out God issues. But I am blessed with a pastor that does not seem to have a church like you mention here. Our church is an incredible place of love and healing. In fact my pastor spent two years talking with me until I could sort out God and decide I really did need a savior. My first comment on walking into his office was,

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