[For Part 1 of this two-part post, please see here.]
Union with the “Heartship of Christ”
When it comes to developing a deeper union with the “heartship of Christ”, we need to understand that there are both general and specific aspects of His “heartship.” The general aspects relate to the eternal virtues of Christ’s heart that never change, while the specific aspects relate to the immediate, situation-specific workings of His heart that are ever dynamic. The key to discerning and responding to the immediate workings of His heart is to first come into a deeper union with the eternal virtues of His heart from which they spring.
Of the many virtues that fill Christ’s heart, there are three that are supreme when it comes to His union with and submission to the Father as His “head” (1 Cor. 11:3) and, subsequently, of our union with and submission to Christ as our “head” (Col. 1:18). The more that we encounter, embrace, and embody these virtues, the more we will come into spiritual union with the deepest springs of His “heartship” and, thus, of His headship. This is how we position ourselves at the very headwaters of the manifest headship of Christ within His Body!
Faith – Of all of the virtues of the heart, faith is the most foundational. Through faith we initially come into relationship with God, and through faith we daily live out our relationship with Him. Scripture says, “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom. 1:17b), and that faith is “…from first to last.” (Rom. 1:17a) If we seek to come into a deeper union with the “heartship” of Christ, we must begin with and perpetually cultivate this primary attribute of faith.
In much Christian teaching, a primary emphasis is placed on the intellect and thought life when it comes to the cultivation of faith (along with its related virtues of belief, trust, assurance, etc.). As important as the mind is in this regard, according to Divine order, faith is, first and foremost, a virtue of the heart. Consider the following verses in this regard:
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him” Ps. 28:7
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Prov. 3:5
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” Mark 11:23
” If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are saved…” Rom. 10:9-10
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Heb. 3:12
“…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” Heb. 10:22
As is seen in these verses, faith, along with“trust”, “belief”, and “assurance”, all find their source within the heart. These virtues, along with additional related ones such as “confidence”, “reliance”, “dependence”, and “faithfulness”, all form a cluster of virtues that spring from the root of faith and when cultivated together bring our hearts into deeper union with the faith-filled “heartship” of Christ.
Because the virtue of faith was so foundational in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can easily take its presence and perfection for granted. His earthly life, however, embodied the purest expression of faith, trust, and assurance in the Father’s sovereign working that has ever been attained and expressed by man. He epitomized the inner attributes of confidence, reliance, and dependence upon the dynamic workings of the Holy Spirit as He submitted to the Father’s sovereign leading. He lived out a humble, obedient relationship with His Father in unwavering faith in and faithfulness to His manifest headship (1 Cor. 11:3). Now His perfectly virtuous heart has been resurrected and sent to dwell within the hearts of His beloved people. His faith-filled ” heartship” abides deep within us drawing and urging us to, likewise, have faith in and be faithful to His sovereign headship among us as His Body.
When we, as the Body of Christ assemble, then, the most foundational virtue that we must cultivate is that of faith. This faith must be especially cultivated and exercised in relation to Christ’s manifest headship in our midst! We must continually reckon on the dynamic reality that Jesus Christ is personally present within and among us as our sovereign Head. We must collectively believe and trust that He is wholly able and willing to lead us as His Body according to His Divine wisdom, will, and ways. We must cultivate a corporate reliance upon the Holy Spirit as He administers Christ’s headship and not turn to the arm of the flesh or to the ways of the natural man, be they religious or otherwise. All substitutes for Christ’s headship, which inherently spring from unbelief, must be surrendered to the cross, and only that which springs from faith in the present working of Christ’s headship must be held onto and yielded to. Even as Jesus of Nazareth was utterly cast upon His Father from birth (Ps. 22:10) and could do nothing out from Himself (Jn. 5:19), so we must be utterly cast upon our resurrected Lord and do nothing out from ourselves as we gather in His name. Only as our “collective heart” comes into a deeper union with the faith-filled “heartship of Christ”, can our “collective body” come into a deeper union with the faithful headship of Christ!
Faith, then, is the most foundational virtue of the heart that we must collectively cultivate when we come together in His name and under His headship.
Humility – The second virtue of the heart that must be diligently cultivated in order to come into a deeper union with the “heartship of Christ”, is humility. “Heartship” implies a moral union with Christ, while “headship” implies a functional union with Him. All that separates us from a moral union with Him has at its root the exaltation of “self”. (Scripture sometimes calls this “vain conceit” –Phil. 2:3.) All that separates us from functional union with Him has at its root the independence of “self”. (Scripture sometimes calls this “selfish ambition.” Phil. 2:3; James 4:14,16) It is both the exaltation and independence of the self-life that is the ultimate divider and destroyer of both the “heartship” and the headship of Christ within His Body. If this is to be overcome, humility must be embraced in both our moral being and in our functional doing.
The origins of self-exaltation and self-independence trace back to the heart of the archangel Lucifer. Scripture says:
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:13-15)
It is Lucifer’s “I will ascend” spirit, which he later injected into the human race through the temptation and sin of Adam and Eve to “be like God” (Gen. 3:5) that is the root of all rebellion against both the “heartship” and the headship of Christ. In contrast, it is the utter rejection of this “I will ascend” spirit that is at the root of all restoration of both the “heartship” and the headship of Christ within His Body.
Here, as in all of the virtues, Christ is the supreme example as well as the transforming power within us to conform us to Himself in both our being and our doing. This humility was, first and foremost, towards His Father, and secondly towards humanity whom He came to serve and to save. Nowhere are these two aspects more purely and powerfully demonstrated than on the cross. (See Phil. 2:5-8) Through the incarnation, suffering, and death of Christ, the complete opposite spirit than that of Lucifer’s “I will ascend” spirit was perfectly embraced and embodied. It was through the utter self-emptying, and self-sacrificing of Christ, in both His being and His doing, culminating in the cross, that He triumphed over all Luciferic and Adamic self-exaltation and self-independence. In this way, He qualified as the only one worthy to be given the headship over all principalities and powers (Col. 2:10) and over redeemed humanity, the church, which is His body (Eph. 1:22-23, Col.1:18). The humility of His “heartship” qualified Him for the sublimity of His headship. Thus, humility and headship are eternally bound in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s perfect heart of humility is now resurrected and come to dwell within us, transforming and causing us to, likewise, deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. (Lk. 9:23) Through this daily working of His indwelling Spirit, He is rooting out the Luciferic “I will ascend” principle within our hearts and bringing us into a more perfect alignment with the humble nature of His “heartship”. This in turn will prepare us for more a perfect union with the dynamic workings of His headship.
When we assemble under the headship of Jesus Christ, then, humility is the second virtue of the heart that we must diligently cultivate and exercise. The more humility there is before God and one another, the more union there will be with both the “heartship” and, subsequently, the headship of Christ. Conversely, the more “‘I will ascend” spirit there is before God and one another, the more union there will be with both Satan and the flesh which jointly hinder and oppose the heartship and the headship of Jesus Christ in the midst of the church.
When we gather together, therefore, we must all learn to humble ourselves before God, submit to the living headship of Jesus Christ, and yield to the manifest working of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Concurrently, we must all learn to humble ourselves before one another, even as the apostle Peter exhorted: “…all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Peter 5:5) Paul likewise exhorted: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:3-5)
The degree to which we embrace this Christ-imparted humility within our gatherings, is the degree to which we will be prepared as a body for the Lord Jesus to manifest His headship in and through us by the Holy Spirit.
Love – Finally, the third virtue of the heart that must be diligently cultivated within our gatherings is that of love. Love is the quintessential attribute that most perfectly defines the “heartship of Christ.” Love is the supreme motivation that underlies all of the workings of the headship of Christ. As we come into a deeper union with this consummate virtue, we come into a deeper communion with the heart of Christ and are able to more readily and regularly discern what He desires to do in and through us as we gather in His name.
So much can be said about love, but please consider for a moment just a small selection of Scripture verses concerning this supreme virtue:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” John 12:10
“…knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” 1 Cor. 8:1
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:1-3
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8a
“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” 1 Cor. 14:1
“Do everything in love.” 1 Cor. 16:14
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Gal. 5:13
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:17b-19
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph. 4:2
“…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Eph. 4:15
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph. 4:16
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Phil. 2:1-2
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Col. 3:12-14
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Pet.1:22
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Pet. 4:8
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4:19-21
The gatherings of God’s people, therefore, ought to be marked, above all else, by this supreme virtue of love. When we come together, the underlying motivation in all that we say and do is to be the Spirit-imparted love in our hearts for God and one another. Our love for God will cause us to seek Him with all of our heart and lovingly yield to His desires and intentions for our gathering as He leads us by His Spirit. The nearer that we draw to Him in faith, humility, and, ultimately, love, the nearer we will draw to His faithful, humble, loving “heartship”, which in turn leads to His life-giving headship.
Our love for one another will, similarly, cause us to seek one another’s benefit and blessing above our own. Our motivation will be to speak and do all things for the encouragement and edification of our brothers and sisters, and not for our own selfish interest. As we honor and prefer one another above ourselves, we will become fit channels through which both the “heartship” and the headship of Christ can flow to His body. In this way, we will become a body that “grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work.” (Eph. 4:16)
If we belong to a body of believers who desire to see a restoration of the headship of Christ within our collective life and gatherings, we must be a body who, first and foremost, seeks a deeper union with the “heartship of Christ” in faith, humility, and love. These three supreme virtues bring us to the deepest springs of the headship of Christ.
In contrast, all hindrances and obstacles to His headship begin with a deficiency in one or more of these spiritual attributes. Unbelief, pride, and self-love are the three greatest enemies of Christ’s corporate governance and spiritual ministry within His people. Wherever these are found, the headship of Christ will invariably be ignored, substituted for, obstructed, hindered, resisted, derailed, controlled, counterfeited, and/or co-opted for self-serving ends. Only a people who purposefully put off these carnal attributes and attitudes and instead are clothed with the opposite virtues of faith, humility, and love, can begin to experience and express the practical headship of Christ in their midst.
To pursue a life together of seeking and surrendering to the imminent headship of Christ, then, requires a walk of perpetual and repeated exercising of faith, humility and love…faith, humility, and love…faith, humility, and love… Where Christ’s “heartship” and headship are persistently pursued along these lines, the Lord Jesus will not fail to manifest His presence, His power, and His providence in leading His people according to His Divine wisdom and loving intention.
May God raise up a people in these last days who are willing to pay the price to see such a glorious restoration come to be…and may we, by God’s grace, be counted among them!