Open Mind or Open Heart?
by Tammye Hamilton
Open-mindedness is highly valued in our culture. Everyone likes a person who seems open to new ideas. Being open-minded opens the door. It says, “I will listen to you.” It is a good thing.
However, being open-minded only goes so far. It says what you believe is fine, even if it’s different from what I believe. Maybe the way I believe isn’t the only way. It stops at an intellectual level. It isn’t an invitation into your life. There’s no level of change. There’s no transformation, because ideas don’t transform.
Being open-minded is a beginning but it is not who I ultimately want to be.
As a follower of Jesus, I long to be a person with an open heart
Open-mindedness seems accepting, all are welcome. An open heart still says come as you are but it doesn’t leave you there. We love no matter what. But we understand that it’s not our love that does the transforming.
As believers whose lives have been dramatically changed, we recognize that just accepting others is not enough. If we are just open-minded we may leave them in their darkness. Just being open-minded never brings change. It doesn’t reach out and say, “Here let me help you. Let me lead you into the Light.”
Jesus set such a good example for us in how He lived His life. He certainly could have been considered open-minded, although it would not have been as popular in the culture of His day.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees complained to His disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5)
Rabbis didn’t hang out with those whose lives were entrenched in the world, but Jesus did. He didn’t do it to be accepted and seen as open-minded. He was with them so they could know Him and He could set them free.
He opened his heart to them AND He made it clear that He was the only way to God. (John 14:6) He opened his heart and brought Truth into every conversation. He changed lives for eternity.
Open-heartedness isn’t just a dialogue. It doesn’t walk away. When we open our hearts we will invite people into our lives. It will get messy. It will not be easy. We will find ourselves in the Word longing to know Jesus better, not to prove a point but to be His hands and feet.
Being open-hearted means we love the lost and hurting. We love them when they are deceived. When they believe things that are contrary to the heart of God. When they are in bondage to lies. As Pastor Aaron Brockett says, “We build bridges of grace that can bear the weight of truth.”
Only with open hearts can we can show those who desperately need Him that only His love has the power to transform.
“You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.”
— Colossians 3:12-14
(Special thanks to my daughter, Marybeth, who helped me with this blog. Marybeth is a counselor at Wheeler Mission in the inner city of Indianapolis. Every day she opens her heart with grace to those who need Him.)