The Pearl-like Beauty of a Heart Recreated by God
August 10, 2016 | by: Dave Maniquis | 2 Comments
Posted in: Theology
Many moons ago when I was jeweler, I had the occasion to set gorgeous pearls into fine jewelry-- marvelous and iridescent round balls that were always a delight to my eyes. They have been considered candy for the eyes for centuries and some of the world’s most precious jewelry has been adorned with them.
Pearls are created by mollusks (clams, mussels, snails, etc.) and what are rated as gem quality pearls come from oysters. They’re actually created as a defensive weapon. When something gets inside the oyster’s shell and touches its internal organs the sovereign oyster now senses it as an invader. It could be something tiny and organic or a piece of sand. Regardless, it squats on the oyster’s real estate and the unwilling host is genuinely ticked off. So, what it does in response is to begin depositing material called nacre onto it layer after layer. It’s a kind of glue with mineral substances in it that gives a pearl that shimmery luster. There are more technical explanations of this process but for my purposes I call it aesthetic spit. The point is that hard layers over hard layers develop over time. Obviously, the larger the pearl, the larger number of concentric layers are built up. The result is this outwardly beautiful ball, the catalyst for which was an unwanted irritant.
This whole process brought my thoughts to the heart in all of us and the very first hearts created in the first book of the Bible. In the beginning were hearts originally disposed towards God,in direct communication, no layering, no separation between the Creator and the created. And then it happened. The hearts questioned and assigned blame outside of them. God’s goodness was accused of stinginess, of holding something back, without an iota of acknowledgement of God’s gift of free-will.
Our first parents merely said to incarnated evil, ah whatchya got, come on in! It was like a door-to-door salesman knocking on the door who is allowed in despite being uninvited. This threat hasn’t changed that much even for the contemporary Christian. Who is responsible for responding to the knocks, whether hard or faint, and permitting the irritants to enjoy your home?
Well...seizing that opportunity, Satan planted the catalyst to begin the process of one hard layer after another until humankind’s heart sought autonomy from its Creator; like the pearl that becomes merely housed in the oyster. A heart of flesh became a heart of stone; and by the world’s standards could even seem beautiful to the eyes. A pearl is beautiful. Yes. However, it’s shelled creator doesn’t really want it. Because it’s birthed from a critter that has no place for something foreign to its being. This so-called creator is an unwilling host with an attitude that generates an object of beauty despite its origin. And, speaking of appearances only, beauty is the result.
Now, here’s where the analogy breaks down. God orchestrated the process for a pearl to be what it is: beginning with an irritant, resulting in a thingy of wonder so that you can appreciate beauty; no free-will, no thinking, just mechanical sequencing. Whereas, Satan’s plan has been to layer the heart already made beautiful in an effort to turn it into a thing of ugliness before God. What a reversal! A piece of mindless, irritating sand can develop into an object of beauty while a human heart can grow ugly.
Yet, as gorgeous as a pearl might be, it has no life. As its existence depends on the oyster as its cold creator, so the human heart depends upon Its. A bunch of "its" there, but hopefully you get the point--its point. God has created the human heart to seek Him. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks the very first question: What is the chief end of man? (yes, that means women too.) Answer: man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
As someone who takes the name of Christ and the whole body of belief and faith that it entails, I know that I must always keep asking myself questions; Dave, since your ultimate aim is to enjoy God forever, are you enjoying Him, I mean, really enjoying Him now because forever has already arrived. Are you praising Him for the big things and the little things? Are you bringing him the honor He so rightly deserves for who He is? Are you admiring him for the pure fun of it and encouraging others to jump into the game?
Let’s face it, not everyone is admired as a beautiful pearl in outward appearance based on the diverse cultural definitions of beauty. How boring would that be? Nonetheless, it’s God who has, or promises, to remove the hardened layers of any sin encrusted heart that comes to Him seeking to be recreated through Jesus Christ. And by doing so a heart is transformed into a magnificent, living pearl that even its Creator admires and delights in.
...let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22; NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17; NIV)
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.