The following is an excerpt from my new release, Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity:
Several years ago I had the privilege of attending the National Prayer Breakfast held annually at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The breakfast is a bipartisan gathering of leaders from all branches of government and both houses of Congress as well as delegations of leaders from foreign countries. The speaker that year was Bill Frist. Prior to his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Frist performed more than 150 heart transplants as a thoracic surgeon. During his remarks, he talked in reverent tones about the moment when a heart has been grafted into a new body and all the surgical team can do is wait in hopes that it will begin to beat. At that point he stopped speaking in medical terms and starting speaking in spiritual terms. He almost seemed at a loss for words as he described that miraculous moment when a heart beats in a new body for the first time. He called it a mystery.
Heart transplants are a marvel of modern medicine, but it goes way beyond what medicine can explain or understand. The heart is more than a physical pump. It doesn't just circulate five thousand quarts of blood through sixty thousand miles of blood vessels day in and day out. The heart has a mind of its own. Studies suggest that the heart secretes its own brainlike hormones and has cellular memory. So a heart transplant isn't just physical; it's metaphysical. Heart transplant recipients don't just receive a new organ; they receive cellular memories.
In his book A Man After His Own Heart, Charles Siebert shares a scientific yet poetic depiction of a heart transplant he observed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Not long after, Siebert attended an annual banquet for transplant recipients and he was deeply moved by their profound appreciation for life. They spoke in reverent tones about the second chance at life they had been given. They humbly acknowledged their responsibility to honor the donor. And many of them talked about new desires that accompanied their new hearts.
Siebert concluded-and his research is backed up by numerous medical studies-that transplant recipients don't just receive a new heart. Along with that new heart, they receive whole new sensory responses, cravings, and habits.
Siebert called this group of heart recipients "the tribe of the transplanted."
When you give your heart to Christ, Christ gives His heart to you. And you become a part of the tribe of the transplanted. That new heart gives you a new appreciation for life. You humbly acknowledge your responsibility to honor the donor. And the cellular memories that come with that transplanted heart give you whole sensory responses, cravings, and habits. You literally feel different. Why? Because you feel what Christ feels. And chief among those sanctified emotions is compassion. Your heart begins to break for the things that break the heart of God. You become part of the this coup de compassion that started at Calvary. And that is the heart of what it means to love God with all of your heart.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.