Circumcision, according to dear Webster, is the cutting off of the foreskin of males that is practiced as a religious rite by Jews and Muslims and by others as a social custom or for potential health benefits (such as improved hygiene).
Weird topic, right?
This was the topic of my pastor’s sermon this morning. He was speaking of Jeremiah chapter 4, the circumcision of the heart.
So, I am curious. What does a circumcision of a human heart really look like? What is cut off from the heart? What are the potential health benefits to the heart?
At birth, our hearts are pure, and open. There is no protective layer that needs to be removed. Unlike the foreskin, the heart creates a protective layer with time.
The first time we are hurt, our heart can bounce right back. But as hurts accumulate, the protection layer is created and grows thicker.
Like the foreskin, this layer around our heart does serve a purpose. It protects our hearts from trusting freely, therefore we do not expose ourselves to the potential of being hurt.
But, this protective layer can cause health problems. A thickly protected heart is not able to deeply love and be loved in return. The thickness of the protection does not allow light in, so often the heart becomes infected. This infection often results in bitterness.
Many times this protective layer is created over a long time, and is unnoticed until it is thick and in some ways feels normal.
But as the prophet Jeremiah proclaims,
3 This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:
“Break up your unplowed ground
and do not sow among thorns.
4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
circumcise your hearts,
you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire
because of the evil you have done—
burn with no one to quench it.
Within these verses runs the sweet wind of freedom. Our hearts know there is life beyond our created protective layer. We secretly long for this layer to be broken up like unplowed ground. We wish for Holy Fire to burn and release our hearts.
Yes, a uncircumcised heart is a protected heart. But, a uncircumcised heart is not free.
May we be brave enough to beg God to break and burn away our protective layer. May God show us how to move into sweet freedom, knowing that our present and future are in His hands.
Doable? You bet.
Will it hurt? Absolutely.
Is it worth it? You tell me. I’m gonna give it a try.
God, please circumcise our hearts. We are trapped in bitterness and loneliness. Release us and set us free.