We read and study the Bible but so often we seem to only be mouthing words and the reality and life changing aspects of the Scripture allude us. I’ve noticed in my own reading that I can finish a half-hour of study but the text hasn’t affected my life or seeped deep into my heart.
In the book of Romans Paul states, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 12:1, 2 The very nature of being a Christian revolves around the transformation of who we are. When we accept Jesus into our lives we change for the better. The things that use to be so central to our lives are replaced with a desire to live in harmony with the will of God.
I have a good friend who became a Christian around the same time in life as I did. Prior to our conversion we lived the typical secular life and never thought of picking up a Bible to read, let alone study. Now however, whenever we talk on the phone or get together we can hardly wait to share with each other what we have discovered in our personal Bible studies. We have been transformed in our minds through our encounter with Jesus.
One of the great series of verses in Scripture is Philippians 4:4-7. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
These four verses are rich in encouragement for a Christian with the admonition to rejoice, have forbearance and put our trust in Jesus. Paul encourages us to pray with thanksgiving with the assurance that our requests are important to God. It is only through our reliance and trust in Jesus that we have assurance and assurance brings peace into our hearts and minds.
It is unfortunate that in so much of what passes for Christianity today, our relationship with God, is defined either by our heart or our minds. People throw out serious Bible study and rely upon emotions and shallow interpretations of Scriptures to guide their relationship with God or, on the other hand, become so doctrinally centered that they forget that the Gospel has to live within the heart to bring us life.
It is wonderful how Paul reminds his readers that the experience of knowing God through His Son Jesus is experiential and practical as well as cerebral. Our encounter with Jesus will change our attitudes and concepts because Jesus reigns both in our hearts and our minds.
Paul goes on in Philippians to explain what the mind looks like after we have encountered and accepted Christ into our hearts. “Finally, brethren, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8, 9
Let’s be honest. We are not going to grow as Christians if we continue to feed our minds the same garbage we fed it with before our conversion. We are not going to have room for Jesus to live within our hearts if our minds are filled with violence, anger, frustration, rebellion and a thousand other things. Christianity has to be a conscious desire to allow Jesus to live within the heart and we do that by refocusing our minds.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4
Philippians 2 sums up quite nicely what I’ve been trying to say in this post. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (v. 1-7 see 1: 27)
Let me be clear, I’m not saying that we are going to have control over our thoughts all the time and in every circumstance. Perfection of thought is not in the cards in this world. We can, however, determine through the grace of the Holy Spirit to steer our thoughts to what is uplifting and encouraging.
The work of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. We need to open our minds to His leading and be willing to allow Jesus to dwell freely within us. My hope is that this post will encourage us all to open our Bible’s a little more often and let our minds dwell on the wonders of God’s amazing grace that saves wretches like us.
* Please go to http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates on the persecution of Christians and as always we need to continue praying for these people.