Recently we received a response to this Door of the Day on our Wittenberg 2017 website. The sister who wrote objected to the phrase "the broken heart of God." She rightly pointed out that nothing in God is broken. He is all wise, all powerful and works everything according to His will. Suggesting that His heart was broken seemed to imply to her some deficit in Him and His authority. This is a valid concern worthy of a response. Below is a copy of the reply I sent to her.
Thank you for your thoughtful response. I will try to give an explanation of the thought behind this quote while acknowledging that we "all see through a mirror dimly" the glory of God. This response will have its weaknesses, but I offer it for your consideration.
We absolutely agree that God is holy and sovereign and wise. In this sense there is nothing broken in Him. Yet there is something very broken in us, and inasmuch as He longs for us to be in union with Him, this brokenness which prevents that union with Him and with one another causes longing and even grief in His heart.
We can see this longing in many scriptures. In Matthew 23:37 Jesus laments over Jerusalem. "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling."
There are many passages in the Old Testament where God speaks as a forsaken lover. The whole book of Hosea is a metaphor for God's grieving heart for an adulterous bride. The second chapter of Jeremiah takes up this yearning, sorrowful love. "I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness,......What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?"
Many other scripture speak of God's desires (that none should perish), His anger, His wrath, His mercy, and even His gratitude and joy when people believe and respond with faith.
We believe that God is an emotional being - not controlled by His passions, certainly - but full of longing and joy, just anger, sorrow and love. We believe that we experience emotions because we are created in His image. Yes, we are weak and tossed about in our emotions in ways that God is not. But there is also something very good and right about our yearning, our sorrow, our joy and hope which resides in the image of God stamped within us.
So in the Wittenberg 2017 initiative, we do believe that our division causes God grief. We also believe that He is sovereign and will bring about the unity which He desires for His people. We wait in this tension in the place of prayer.
Thank you again for your response. May God our Father bless you!
If anyone reading is interested in receiving Door of the Day quotes, you can sign up at http://www.wittenberg2017.us/door-of-the-day.html
We are almost half way through our 500 day countdown to Nov. 1!