The condition of a person’s heart is one of the chief concerns of Scripture. We may look on people’s appearance, “but God looks on the heart” and it is the condition of the heart that really matters to God. And it matters to God because it affects our relationships with one another. The heart can be open to God and neighbour in love and compassion, or it can be closed, as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and cruel in the time of Moses. Most of us have hearts that are partly open and partly closed.
Closed or hardened hearts create a kind of shell around us. Like an egg, that shell needs to be broken open so that we can enter into fullness of life. Frederick Buechner calls this the “hatching of the heart.” [quoted in Borg, p. 154] Like a chick breaking through its protective shell, we need to hatch from the condition of a closed heart into new life, into the condition of the open heart. To hatch from a closed heart to an open heart is to hatch from slavery into freedom, from darkness into light, from sin into salvation. Having an open heart is more fun, more fulfilling, and more exciting than being closed.