When my friend Don asked me recently at lunch how I was doing, I laced the fingers of my two hands together and said, “the left hand represents my mind; the right, God’s mind. I am somewhere between these two, depending on who I am listening to right now. The more I listen to God, the more peace, joy and love I experience. The more I listen to myself, the more anxious I am. And I vacillate between the two.” I am setting intentions about giving up the power my mind holds over my state of being and I’ve been pretty successful with God’s help, but it is amazing to me how one stupid lapse in my behavior can capture my mind’s attention—over and over again.
Maybe we humans are always caught between our own minds and God’s intentions for us. Do we continue to give some purchase to our minds, even as we grow in Christ, until we finally give up our human bodies to death? Was this what Paul meant when he talked about the flesh in Galatians 5:17ff: “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
It’s our minds that drive our behavior; it’s not the body that is weak, but the part of us that determines what we do. It’s the mind that we have to deal with. And it is not a rigid self-control that we are to seek; we are not to be letter of the law people, clamping down on our oh-so-human temptations.
What we seek through Christ and the Holy Spirit is to allow our minds to be ruled by how God thinks, how God wants us to be. He wants to transform all our pain and suffering into love and forgiveness. Then the mind of Christ is to lead us, not our little human mind, for it cannot see the truth that is before it, only its own desires of self-protection, ego-centeredness, and culturally-driven objectives. It is as we grow into the mind of Christ we have “the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Paul goes on to say that Jesus was a servant, humbled and obedient. [Philippians 2:5-8 NIV]
It is only as we grow in our relationship with Christ that we are able to serve God, to be humble and obedient, because our human minds are not set up to be either. I don’t know if, while we are still human beings, we get to live only in the mind of Christ without reference to our own ways of thinking. I am hopeful that the deeper I go into this relationship, the more I will be in God’s mind and the less engaged I will be in my own way of thinking[which is grounded in the ways of the world]. Perhaps it is only when we reach the last stage of the spiritual journey in Christ, that of union with God, that we will achieve that state of oneness and only think like God does.
Meanwhile, I plan to focus more and more on what God wants of me in this moment and the next. I plan to spend the rest of my life, however long, in gazing at Him in love and see where that mindset would take me. I want to live my life so that people see Christ and not me. I want to fulfill the purpose that God has revealed to me.
Already I am less grounded in the world. I am forgetting simple stuff: one day recently I had an early dentist appointment. I went to my doctor’s office instead. Fortunately, the dentist and his staff were forgiving. I’m a little less attentive to bills and paper work. I have to work on doing the things I have always done, perhaps in new ways that don’t rely on my memory, like paying the bills as they come in and not waiting until the end of the month to set up all the payments. I live in this world, so there are things I just must do, but I cannot let them have priority in my life over my relationship with God.
I had such an experience today—May 6, 2017—of living in Christ’s mind. I was up at Lake James near the North Carolina mountains with every intention of spending three days writing. First, one of the smoke alarms was beeping as I arrived Friday night. Fortunately, I could sleep in the basement where I couldn’t hear it. It was 3 pm on Saturday before I silenced it, finally. Then, when I sat down at my computer I had somehow erased every document file on my computer, including my book on Exodus which is ¾ finished.
I was shocked! But all I could think was that I should go home. It would be easier to deal with a computer problem in Charlotte than near the mountains. As I drove, my mind kept throwing up questions like this: what about this file and that one? And I just laughed. I was totally at peace knowing that the Lord would take care of whatever was wrong. I called Apple when I got home; it took about 5 minutes for the files to come back up on my desktop, including this one.
And so I seek to keep growing closer to Christ, to have the right hand of God be my chosen place to live, to live into his intentions for me, to live fully. That is my prayer.
Questions to ponder over the week: What portion of my day do I live in my own mind? What portion in Christ’s mind? What do I need to give up to God in order to live more fully in the mind of Christ? Under what circumstances do I experience peace, joy, love? How dedicated am I to living as Jesus taught?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who live more and more in Christ’s mind. May we enjoy all the blessings and grace the Lord showers us with every day. May peace, joy and love be our experience of life and of God.
Look on this page for the archives of my blog going back to 2011.