The Heart of God
Apr 6, 2018
This 2017/2018 Youth Ministry theme is Heart of God. Joel Stepanek writes what that is about.
Heart of God
by JOEL STEPANEK
God’s heart is for you.
Don’t let that statement be a cliché or platitude. Look at it again. Let it roll over you and take you in. Embrace this divine mystery and seeming contradiction.
God is a self-contained Trinity, in need of nothing. He is being itself. God has no need for you. You do not complete anything in God – He is sufficiently complete. And yet…
God’s heart is for you.
But, what is your heart for?
Throughout sacred Scripture, God’s heart and love is referenced and implied. People have argued that all of Scripture is one big love story – God’s love story – about us. The heart of God is given to us. The imagery begs the question, what exactly do we mean when we talk about God’s heart and how does understanding that change us?
This year, we are going to break open this beautiful mystery in our annual theme, “Heart of God.” A person’s “heart”, in a metaphorical sense, represents their absolute direction. A person could look at you and say they are charitable, but perhaps their heart is actually set toward money. Their words can say one thing, but their heart reveals their true intentions (Matthew 6:21). God’s heart represents His direction, as well. Since God is love, God’s heart is always oriented toward love (1 John 4:8). And this love is given to us as His mercy. We don’t deserve that and we can’t earn it (John 15:16).
This year, our theme presents some incredible opportunities. First, we are provoked to dive more deeply into the mystery of God’s heart and God’s love by entrusting our hearts to him (Philippians 4:7). One specific way we will challenge ourselves to learn the heart of God is through a deeper study and prayer with Sacred Scripture. God’s word reveals God’s heart – in fact, St. Gregory the Great once wrote in a letter, “Learn the heart of God in the words of God.” As a staff we are going to more ardently pursue our study of the Word of God and want our parishes in the Life Teen movement to join us. Utilize your Summit resources and consider getting a copy of Ascend for your Core Members, if not your small group members as well. Make the most of these resources as you seek to know God’s heart more in His very Word. Finally, this theme will challenge our own hearts.
What are our hearts directed toward?
When we learn the heart of God through prayer and studying Scripture, we must respond. Love demands a response. If someone told you they loved you, whatever you do next is your response. You can say, “I love you back,” or “I don’t love you,” but even being silent and refusing to say anything is a response. When we are confronted with love of God in the heart of God, how will our hearts respond?
Our hope is that, by prayerfully entering into this theme, our hearts would become hearts that chase after God. We will pray that our hearts could be like King David:
“[God] raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”
Our prayer is that this year will be transformative for your teens, your parish, and your heart. One day, the light of God will reveal the direction and intention of our heart (1 Corinthians 4:5). May we be found chasing after God’s heart… only to realize that God, in His infinite mercy, has been chasing us for far longer.