Gentle and Lowly: Discussion of the Introduction

Hi @Interested_In_Book_Studies,

In this Introduction of Gentle and Lowly, Dane Ortlund opens his book in this way:

This is a book about the heart of Christ. Who is he? Who is he really? What is most natural to him? What ignites within him most immediately as he moves toward sinners and sufferers? What flows out most freely, most instinctively? Who is he?

As you read these words, how would your heart answer this question? Please share with us what your natural, default understanding of Christ’s heart appears to be.

What does God think about you?

At the close of the Introduction, Ortlund writes:

So with Christ. It is one thing to know the doctrines of the incarnation and the atonement and a hundred other vital doctrines. It is another, more searching matter to know his heart for you.

This paragraph leads me to ask at least two questions.

The first is, “what study have you done to gain clarity about the central doctrines of the Christian faith?”

The second is, “how have these doctrines shaped not only your mind - but your heart?”

Yet I find it fascinating that Dane Ortlund takes it a step further. What we think about God is important. But too often we learn this information as if we are studying for an exam. (Perhaps because seminary students often are studying for exams!).

But I think a better context is the one that Ortlund provides, that of marriage. We could also think of a great friendship.

In either scenario, I believe our desire to know the other person is not so much that we can have the ‘right’ understanding but more so that we can be close to our friend or spouse.

As a final question for discussion: what habits or routines help you know Christ’s heart for you? Do you want to know Christ’s heart for you?

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These are really good questions…
Growing up Catholic, I used to look at the various pictures of the ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’.
They confused and scared me. I’ve been born again now for many years and recently have been thinking of that representation. Though I am not Catholic any more, the idea of Jesus looking intently at me and pointing to His own heart on fire does make me ponder just what His heart for me is like. Also, several years ago I remember being angry at God and Feeling distant from Him, and thinking I couldn’t really understand Him, so why should I try. I heard Him say very clearly, ‘Lauri, I am a Person, not an entity. Not a power, not a force. I am a Person. You can know Me.’ That realization has stayed with me. And not too long ago I was working on memorizing Psalm 139. It tells us that God knows everything we’re thinking about, even far off thoughts, and what we’re going to say before we say it. I stopped and asked suddenly, Lord, what do YOU think about? He answered immediately;
‘I think about you.’ Thinking of these things reminds me that His heart is deep and wide, yet He wants us to know it. Like Ravi used to say about his grandson who told his mom not to lose her heart because he was in there!

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I am having a hard time answering these questions because you are asking what my heart says, and my mind keeps interfering! I keep wanting to start my answer with, “Whenever I think about Jesus, I think about…” Oh, well!

When I consider that I am a speck among billions of specks on a speck that orbits a speck that is one of a gazillion specks in the arm of a speck among another gazillion specks in a vast yet finite universe that the infinite Father created through the infinite Son who became a speck just like me so that he can suffer and die just like me so that I can be his adopted brother just as I am–well, that just about says it all, doesn’t it?

“He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory;” (Matthew 12:19–20, ESV)

He quietly pursued his purpose with healing words and touches. He saved his harshest words for the arrogant, to whom he still granted opportunity after opportunity to learn the truth. He wept over Jerusalem. He embodied 1 Corinthians 13. I still fall far, far short of this. I have grieved over my sinfulness lately but become increasingly thankful to Jesus for his grace and kindness.

I have a college degree in Biblical studies, so I have a pretty good doctrinal knowledge. I have not started fully to grasp the heart of the Christian faith until the past few years. I used to be quite a Pharisee. God has knocked me around, though, in a good way. He has taught me that knowledge does not fool-proof my faith. He has performed miracles in my life that have proven his love for me. I now arise earlier than I ever have in the morning and stay up later in the evening so that I can meditate on his words and pray. Earthly things are growing dimmer every day in light of his glorious grace. I want to know his heart for me more and more.

I could keep writing, but I have to stop somewhere! :grin:

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Lauri, you reminded me of a time when I became so angry with God that I actually shouted at him in the street. He did not strike me down; he performed a miracle instead.

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He is Jesus. I am wondering how I should feel about the fact that the author does not use His name but His title. He is the Christ but His is Jesus. That is more personal to me. His heart was for me and He became my savior many years ago. Then He became my victor over my sinful habits. Then I knew Him as my defender in hard situations. Then I knew Him as my healer when I was in the hospital. Now I believe I think of Him as friend. But also the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God all wrapped into this presence we call Jesus and much much more. I hear that Jesus is calling out Muslims. Appearing to them as the holy man in white. He calls His enemies and makes them His friends. His heart is for the lost and hurting. His heart is for the rich man that knows Him not. His heart is for His sheep. I am His brother, I am his servant, I am a living sacrifice for Him. I owe Him my life. I owe Him my family. I owe Him my breath. He is Jesus. He is esa to the Muslim. He is Christ to me. He is my friend and my king. He is I believe my best friend. He is my role model. He is my high priest that intercedes for me. He is my God.

  1. God thinks highly of me. I am His child and He is a good Father. How else would a child feel in the presence of a good Father.

  2. I don’t think doctrines have shaped my heart. Spiritual disciplines have shaped my heart. Doctrines help me appreciate God more and try to understand Him more but the heart of Christ has changed my heart more then anything else I think.

  3. Prayer and the Psalms help me know Christ’s heart for me. I have been doing studies on the attributes of God. Those attributes are Jesus’s attributes. I am amazed that a god could love me and desire to spend time with me and encourage me. He wants me to be like Him. He wants me to be holy. He wants me to walk in my righteousness.

I want to know Jesus more…

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Thank you for sharing. It is a great ponder, isnt it? Man, one who would choose the suffering to grant us a gift - what a heart! I, as many, historically worried about choices and their impact on my life and eternity. What a friend we have. What a heart to not cast us out but to keep encouraging us and being faithful over and over and over again.

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Thank you for sharing. I ponder sometimes who am I that he is mindful of me? Your post reminded me of that.

What a gift. I feel the same way that his faithfulness is never ending. We are children with an advocate and we are heirs. Let us endeavor to understand the heart of Jesus to our abilities so others may know as well.

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It is encouraging to hear how you have been formed by God’s grace and presence in your life!

Which spiritual disciples have you prioritized?

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Who is Jesus? He is love, because He is God. Everything he does is love, even when he had to rebuke, and in the end when we are all judged that will be His motivation. His intolerance for anything evil is because He is love.

A few years ago I had a dream. In it was my husband, but not my husband. He looked like him but he was actually Christ. Dreams are strange but I think the best way I can describe it is that Christ took on the form of my husband. The look on my husband’s face and the few words he muttered (I cannot remember what they were) was the purest expression of love I have ever seen. It overwhelmed me and I understood then just how much our Lord loves me. His look said he loved me in spite of everything and anything I’ve done or thought. He love me for who I am. Never have I seen that look on anyone’s face, not even my own husband’s. I don’t know why I had that dream, but I felt like it was a gift from God. It was the only dream I’ve ever had that actually seemed to come from Him.

Jesus loves me, and I’ve always known it. He said so in His word. Over the many years I’ve been a Christian that knowledge has blossomed as I read the entire Bible and learned to better understand Paul’s teaching, especially Romans. I cannot think of any specific doctrine that I’ve studied, but having taken the Core Module gave me a better understanding of some things and a even greater appreciation for The Trinity in its three persons.

Prayer and seeing how God works in my life and the lives of people I know helps me to understand Christ’s heart. Loving my children and husband and seeing the fruit of years of devotion and care for them, learning not to focus on their human faults, also gives me a better understanding of how Jesus loves me. (I must add that I was very selfish in the beginning as we all are but years of growing with the Lord and learning the hard way has taught me much about my relationships with my husband and children and others.) Because I have learned to love these people that I am in such a close relationship with in the same way that Christ has shown love to us all, and have seen how they have been blessed as well as I have, by love that does not bear grudges nor focus on petty things, and is not selfish, not that I am always perfect at it, I have come to better understand Jesus’s love for us all. But I think better yet, because I understood Jesus’s unselfish love I have been better able to love my family in that way. Our relationship with others can reflect our relationship with Jesus, especially in marriage. I think it has only been very recently that I feel like I’ve come to a real understanding of Christ’s love and I am glad to know it. I am glad because it helps me to better understand how to show love to others. :heart:

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His heart is for me. So hard to comprehend and yet so true! I love that you brought up Psalm 139, Laurie. I think that is where I first started to see His heart for me. I was listening to a song written by Rich Mullins called “Nothing is Beyond You”. He has a line in there that reads:

“Even if I make my bed in hell, still there you would find me…”

It drove me to Psalm 139. There I read in vs.7-10:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”

This was my situation exactly. I was in crisis and without hope! I was living in the Aleutian Islands approximately halfway between mainland Alaska and Russia at the convergence of the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea. I don’t think I could have found a more remote part of the sea. Yet even there He came for me.

Who is Jesus? He is the lover of my soul. He is the One who leaves the 99 to find the 1. He is the One who never gives up. He is the One driven by His heart to not only “save” me in some distant eternity, but to rescue me now…from my sin and myself!

I love the book of Genesis because it throbs with the faithfulness of God. He is committed to our redemption–and that is not driven by just His head or duty.

I love Ephesians 1 because it clearly displays that He has chosen us, and this according to His kind intention. He bestows His grace on us freely in the Beloved. And He lavishes on us the riches of His grace. These terms speak to me of longing and love. I find it incredible that He could love me like that.

And I love the book of Hebrews, because it encourages me to not settle for less than His heart. It reminds me that my own self-righteous performance and piety will never satisfy; it is not a good trade-off. He is committed to captain my soul (at the cost of His own life) through the treacherous waters of this life. That can only be an expression of His heartbeat for me!

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Jesus always rebukes with the ultimate goal of reconciliation. Is that not amazing?

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Absolutely. I never cease to marvel at it. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Hello Everyone I am looking forward to this discussion to help others understand Christ true heart and realize He is not our enemy as I once thought?

I too grew up and was taught for eight years the Catholic faith in Parochial School. My concept, opinion, and understanding was formed mostly because I didn’t care, though I was taught well all the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.

Christ to me till a born again experience was just some person who hung on the cross so I could get forgiveness.

God, Christ was just what I was taught not a reality to me just a story in a book for many years.

Christ has been my best friend even though time and time again I have not been His.

My studies have mainly been in the new testament through practical application of its truths and teachings and seeing the reality of that truth come to life in my life and many others. To me my heart was impacted before I gained a head knowledge of who Christ was to me, or who He was for real. Christ said if you have seen me you have seen the Father and that sunk in more than all I learned and forgot as a young child. thank you all for sharing and engaging together.

Mike

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Phillip, I appreciated your reminder that Jesus is not a title, but the name of a friend. It is interesting to note that he turned status upside down by descending from his eternal luxury into our home and eating with us and talking with us and walking with us. You can imagine what some if his conversations with his closest friends were like–absolutely normal–not a shred of pretension!

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Question #1. I can’t say that it has been one specific study that revealed doctrine to me. It has been a cumulative effect over the years that has helped me understand doctrine, even shedding light on secondary doctrine when you get with ‘other christian faiths’. For example, participating in BSF (Bible Study Fellowship, we could discuss primary doctrine but was encouraged to avoid discussing secondary that might cause ruffling feathers).
Question #2. Over time and repetitive exposure to these doctrines through various studies, I have come to ‘see’ with my spiritual eyes the heart of Jesus. Ok, glimpses. Salavation is most likely the driving factor. The heart that took him to the cross for me, a meager sinner with no hope until he died for me to wash me clean. Studying the Name Quest by James Avery seriously solidified so much of what I have come to learn and know. In this book the author covers over 200 names used to describe God, obviously blended in there is Christ and the Holy Spirit. Prayer, Holy Spirit and the Bible might be the next doctrines that comes into play enabling me to commune with God and work on the intimacy needed to solidify the truths I learn, to learn to stand in my identity in HIM, to walk in obedience to his commands and to hear his voice.
All that being said, for me coming to get glimpse of His heart has been a process, not just one lightening bolt time in life.

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Mountain time prayer like Jesus (alone one on one) along with fasting and journaling. I believe God has used and continues to use those. Fasting especially helped me with self-control which I lacked greatly.

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Thanks for sharing Phillip, You affirm many thoughts from my heart toward Jesus.

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Ditto…

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Phillip, your response to @CarsonWeitnauer reminds me of a scene in the old Gary Cooper film, Sergeant York. He is drafted for the Army for World War I. His petition as a conscientious objector is denied. He goes away to a quiet place on a mountain to read his Bible and pray for guidance. This scene stirs my heart every time because it illustrates how Jesus speaks to us. Now that I think of it, I recall Elijah’s experience in 1 Kings 19:9–18. Amazing!

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And some of my time has felt like that. The body of Christ does not act like Christ. I have prayed in my time for my repentance and for the body’s. May we all know the heart of Christ and wear it as our own.

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