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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Judah's Glory: The Mind of Christ

Exploring Christian Concepts, Teaching, Doctrines, News, Commands, and lessons.

Mind of Christ, Surrender & Belief

November 15th, 2005

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. J0hn 3:16-17

Last time we noted that belief, the kind Christ forms in our hearts soul and spirit is intrinsically different than mere consent. In the New Testament it is noted that "even the demons believe and tremble": most people today make one of two errors: they either believe that a mere 'consent' to the truth, or agreement is real belief, or they required belief plus something else.

Consent vs Belief

To truly BELIEVE, in the sense of saving faith, in the sense of entering into relationship with God, requires trust, love, and a depth of spirit and committment. We used to play a game as children where someone would stand behind another person and 'dare' them to fall backwards. Some would and some wouldn't: depending on the person behind them, and the degree to which they believed they would truly 'catch' them. And true to human form, being kids, sometimes the one behind would step back and let them fall, to a mildly cruel laughter. The belief Jesus requires of us though is that: without any props, without any rails, without knowing what will happen, to lean in and trust Him completely.

Consent on the other hand, is far too often today what others mistake for saving faith. Many go to the altar of a local Church, and when a call to Salvation is made, they go to the altar, agreeing with what the preacher has said, and figure they better 'get in on eternal life' and go to heaven when they die. It has frequently been compared to buying fire insurance. "Yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord, that He died to save us, and that that means we go to Heaven when we die." That sounds good but more than any other religious deception it is the most dangerous: be careful to understand: that statement is absolutely TRUE, but the deception lies in the heart and mind: how much do we REALLY believe it?
It has become popular today to be a 'born-again' Christian: seems everybody thinks they are anyway. But most continue after acquiescing to lead the same life as everyone else out in the world. They may go to church more often and read the Bible a little, but they conduct business the same, watch the same things, talk in the same way etc. I am not insinuating that certain 'works' go along with belief: they do not: Christ has paid the entire price on Golgotha: we have nothing to add.
But simple agreement continues on as if salvation had never occurred. Real BELIEF enters into relationship, and begins from the moment the Holy spirit comes to indwell the believer to walk in 'the newness of Life'.
This is the 'back to Antioch' stuff: to really believe and not just say it, or consent.

On Golgotha, a divine event so monumental occurred that the course of all things were changed forever . FOREVER. Our sins were literally removed as if they had never been: we no longer had to be 'good', we couldn't: we had instead to believe, trust, love and not let go. When this happens, and one realizes what a great release that is: that our accountabilty for our own errors, horror and sin have been forgiven and not charged to our account, then one experiences a divine relief, a burden of life lifts; you do not have to be 'perfect' anymore, or fit anyone's expectations or opinions, you do not have to try to do right: right is given in perfection. One of the things that changes then or shortly after is that one realizes that there are no persons better than any others: we share the dust at the foot of the Cross. When speaking of race, I told my children when they were little that God sees one color: red. A Christian will understand what I mean. He sees us through the blood of His Son: we were bought at that cost: all colors. Oddly, it does not mean that you automatically believe that interracial marriage is all right, or that you don't notice certain culture differences, etc, but that the most genuine tolerance in the world occurs: you come to understand what God means by no respect of persons. How could one consider one person above or below another? How could one use another person or their works or goods without right? With what we have been given? With what we did not deserve? Its best not to get too far from the Cross: its best to stay in sight of that blood: no one's 'cells' or 'status' in life matters to Christ: life matters to Christ. He would have ALL. That does not mean there are not those who will horrify you in life, who will harm you beyond all expectation: people become dangerous without Christ: they become hurtful. But Christ's tolerance comes after the utter trust and belief in the atonement and sacrifice He made there: in the Blood. A Sacrifice promised since the beginning, so dynamic, complete, perfect and excellent that it overwhelms the believer forever, and effects a real change forever. It takes a leaning in and leaning on: it takes trust and real love and perserverence: it takes more than a nod that that is 'probably what happened.' Golgotha changes the heart and the Mind completely. The World is no longer the same.

Belief Plus Anything.

The second and greatest error made in Christianity today is that once we come to the Cross that we have anything to add. We do not. What could a created person do which would add to what their creator could do? How perfect could your gift, or behavior or thinking or changing be? A thousand rules followed still do not add a speck to Salvation wrought by God who knew it would take a divine act not a human one. This is the error which Paul had to address in the Jewish community: they kept accusing him of teaching that we could just go on sinning and sinning and that since Christ had paid it all, it was all right. His pronounced remark was 'God Forbid'! Now, if you actually got down to 'doing anything' and counting on grace to cover it, you are already exhibiting a disregard and sincere hatred of the Gospel. A real believer coming to Christ can't stand the idea of causing harm to the Savior or one of His, and can't stand to be apart from Him. A Taste of the divine makes all the streams of earth sour and bitter. You run to the opposite: to perfect love and peace, to the face of the Bridegroom. Grace however, at the same time, is THAT BIG!!!! Martin Luther once said, " If you are going to sin, sin boldly. He did not mean people ought to sin: he meant that Grace is so profound, so wide and so eternal, that even in the act of running away from God He will take it and turn it to the believer's benefit and the benefit of His Way. (Rms 8:28) On the other hand, too many today, use Grace lightly as a 'do not go to jail' monopoly card: that is critically wrong too. In the old Testament, God condemns an act of Israel as doing every cruel thing to the weak vulnerable, women and children and the poor and then crying 'Grace , Grace, Grace'. There is still a place of God's correction, even severe trials that take you apart, but it does not damage the gift that God gives in Salvation to the true believer. We do not however want to walk that way and here is why: we will probably not damage God's will in the end, Grace will see to it; but we will find the walk far harder than we ever imagined. Far harder.

Jonah could have obeyed God immediately, but his disgust for his enemy who had brutalized Israel and those he loved made him run to Tarshish, the city of wealth. He never arrived and God used his aliyah to turn him and the nation Ninevah around, but before it was over: well, we know the story.

The point is this: real belief is an intense relationship which causes obedience and surrender: our minds and hearts are changed. That is the mind of Christ. We do not add to the work of Christ by living perfectly, nor frustrate it by running away: it is His Work, and this tenet of the Mind of Christ must be gotten ahold of, to proceed in the walk. We most often though end up wanting to do good, live holy and 'do right' because we LOVE HIM: NOT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO. More to follow

Surrender & Dying to Self

November 1st, 2005

Continuing, we find that the Mind of Christ has at it's core, the relinquishment of self: not the enthronement or building of self-concern and fulfillment, and conversely, not the degradation of self, or despondency or hatred, but RELINQUISHMENT---that is the 'dying to self' spoken of in scripture.

The first point of a new life in mind occurs at Golgotha: each person brought to Life in Christ begins at Golgotha: an emptying sky turned black, a Messiah-King whose followers thought would bring deliverance, but instead was for the moment, dying on a cross: an unthinkable death for a King of Israel. His suffering was immense, his countenance torn and beaten, and yet in all the scourging they failed to break a bone of the Lamb for sacrifice.
After healings, commanding the elements, raising four persons from the dead, and the Words of Life which had been lost in Israel, Roman soldiers treated him to the death of a rebel slave: an impalement upon a cross for the great crime of being the King of Heaven: enough to see, enough to fear, and enough to violently turn on. Most on that dreadful afternoon could only see the death of a Redeemer ,only a suffering soul, even though He had repeatedly told them of his course and purpose. Unbelief looking towards belief starts here.

Belief is different than a mere 'cognition' or knowledge or 'acknowledgement' of a fact or observation. (to be continued).

Surrender and Self-less-ness continued

October 30th, 2005

There is a real reason that surrender to God and dying to self go together. One great tenet of coming to the 'mind of Christ' is that God's ways are not our ways: our human logic cannot see what God can see. We are limited by time, space and a brief life span. He sees all that has been and will be. When we are filled with our selves, we choose the ways we know and have learned, using human logic and usually only thinking a step ahead. In the fullness of the natural mind, we only consider what is seen, felt, and experienced. We might go by more nebulous motivations such as 'intuition' or cause, but we still tie these to the pragmatic experience of "being-in-the-world". We do not look for the 'evidence of things not seen as faith is described. We are self-guided, self-motivated, and we feel very comfortable in the things and prompts of the world in decision making without feeling the need for divine guidance.

The Maze

It is not unlike a person placed in a complex labyrinth or maze, with multiple twists and turns, and danger or reward based upon the turns. There is the one who made us, who made what the maze is made of, who stands above and sees every turn and every outcome. The man down in the maze sees only the wall and an aisle before him: on his own he is likely to be devoured by the maze. But if he listens to He who stands above it, deciding the turns not on logic, or what looks more pleasant, but on trusting the one who really sees, he will successfully navigate to the end.

The Emptying of Self

This may all seem to not be directly related to surrender and selflessness but it is directly related. Surrender is the relinquishing to God a choice that is ours in the knowledge that he is omnipotent and omniscient.
It is a willing decision on our part to give in and give up to God what is rightfully his: our lives and path.

Concurrently, Selflessness, and the 'dying to self' which is spoken of in scripture, is not as many erroneously presume a hating of the self or degrading of the self: both of those involve a great deal of self-focus and self-consummation. Some psychologists fear that the dying to self taught in the Bible would lead to low 'self-esteem ' or depression, but their natural minds do not comprehend the difference between negatively valuing the 'Self' and letting go of the self that Christ may live through us.

What a difference!!! The surrender of 'self' and the 'dying' and putting away of self-full-ness actually can bring joy and not despair and depression in the worst trials we face. In depression, or what clinicians call clinical depression, rather than dying to self, persons become obsessed with self, their focus in entirely inward: no one can tell them what to do, to them there is no remedy, they are bad, evil, horrible, etc and they are in despair. Only the pain differentiates them from the egoist. Those filled with 'pride' and what we call 'self-esteem' do not hurt like the depressed person but both are utterly focused on the self: one loves it , one hates it, both are self-occupied.
Interesting, while the media and education ran with the concept of self-esteem years ago before researchers would have ever given a green light, the psychological research community found it much more complex a topic, and years have been spent even trying to come up with a common operational definition. "Self-esteem' like IQ often has a circular definition: it is what self-esteem measures test. A more recent study in fact pointed to increased levels of 'self-esteem' as being related to callousness towards others and aggressiveness. For all the years in education of trying to instill 'self-esteem' over other character values and valuing of others, we may have done the opposite of producing healthy individuals for a healthy society, but rather a generation of self-absorbed persons with small concern for others and a new moral clime
determined entirely on self-edification over all other concerns.

Dying to Self
The natural mind then, tends easily and immediately towards an over-concern with the Self, for the good or bad. But Jesus taught a very different way: not hating or loving the self, in fact scriptures teach

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:Eph 5:29

Dying to self is not even 'getting rid of the self', for it is part of the nature God gave us, but of making it of no importance, allowing Christ to live through us the Life He purchased for us on the Cross: the indwelling of Christ, Christ within us, is the normal experience of the Christian, and the more we relinquish to Him our lives and His rightful place in our lives, the more we experience joy, peace, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the power of God and a 'right-ness' of the way of God. We reap through dying to self, the abundant life, not depression and despair.

This does not mean that the Christian will not experience pain, sorrow, and even for moments or a season despair: we are involved in a horrible warfare, Christ ever for us seeks to keep us in His Way, producing fruit. The World and the adversary of our souls, tries with fervent pride to undo all that God has done: his goals are strife, division, unbelief, horror and the demolishing our faith and life. When all that hits hard, we want to blame God, when we should be attributing those despairing events to the devil and the nature of the world. When we blame God, we misunderstand often in our natural minds, the nature of the battle we are in.

How do we 'die to self'? Do we muster it up? take classes? buy a book on 'how to die to self'? No, none of this would work for more than momentary practices. Dying to self for the Christian becomes both a single choice for one event, and a way of life. I knew a man once who drove a truck for a living, who had to make the decision between a well-paid job which would keep him away from home much of the time, or a cut in pay for a local company which would give him ample family time, but cause the family to struggle financially. The natural mind and most Christians today, would immediately argue that the family needed the finances, but God sees children needing a parent, a worker needing rest and time with God, a mind set not on money and self-determination but on trust. Now not the same choice is 'right' in every circumstance, but the note here is not on 'self-denial' or purposely making your life difficult to be 'spiritual' but on making your decisions in relationship to God with a transformed mind instead of the natural one.

Vocation is not the only choice in which we must die to self and allow God to work through us: the 'Dying to Self' in scriptures affects every life choice such as marriage, childen, moves, what we see or read, wear, etc down to the small obediences which God calls us to that may lead to grand works of God. Philip was in the middle of a grand crusade with many saved souls when God instructed him to go into the middle of the desert and just stand there: nobody around, nothing to do, no crowd, ---but within a short time, the Ethiopian Eunuch, the attendant to Queen Candace passes by, and in his discussion with Philip, is born again, from above, and goes on to bring the gospel to Ethiopia and then Northern Africa: all because Philip did not concern himself with whether the call of God made 'common sense' to him: he died to his self will and reasoning, and divine reason wrought a work so great it has lasted till today as a testimony of faith.

My daughter once pointed out that the first Martyr of Acts, Stephen, unlike the other Apostles was appointed to take care of the needs of widows. The other apostles were concerned that they should not be about 'waiting on tables', but Stephen, rather than taking his place in the pulpit, gave himself to fulfilling a need in the Church that was in Christ's heart: he put aside his 'self-desire', even a good one of taking a higher place in the Church and preaching, and instead went to the forgotten and alone, and made sure that elderly women were cared for. The result? Not only did the need get met, but Stephen, in the end of his life, stoned to death by religionists of his own kind, preaches a sermon that has lasted 2000 years, converting many to the household of God. Stephen did the 'illogical' thing and let Christ make the decision: in the end both his own desire and the needs of the Church were fulfilled in a great work of God.

We need to learn to first identify our self will, self-motivations, and examine in any choice whether we want most the feeding of the flesh or spirit. Tithing is an example. Sometimes when we
'save' tithe and it build up, for awhile, we may be tempted to say, well, there is no food in the kitchen, or we have to pay the electric bill, maybe we can just 'owe' God. That is adhering to natural reasoning, fear of God not providing or suffering, and self-full-ness: we make the decision to hold back based upon our wanting to do things in a way we decide and are comfortable with. All of us however have heard countless stories of believers who made the plunge, paid the tithe, and ended up with more than they could have asked or expected. Before we pay a tithe when there are bills, it looks like jumping off a cliff, and many fail, choosing our ways instead of God's. But when we die to self, becoming willing to suffer even loss, then we shortly afterwards see the abundance of faith, of our walk with a Savior who is trying not to punish us or try us beyond what we are able, but to lead us into a deep trust. The more of His life we allow, the more we 'get out of the way' and allow Him to live through us, the more we see the wonder of God, joy and the more faith is increased for the next trial.

Loving Not Their Lives

In the endtimes, in Revelation is described the key to success in walking with the LORD: it is not money, nor fame, nor honor: it is the overcoming of the corruption, sadness and chaos of the world, by fighting the divine battle, even unto the death: His way, and not ours. Most of us are not there yet: we are able to die to the self for moments, but sometimes in a mundane world, heaven seems nebulous and far off, and we lose the joy of our salvation. The consummation of 'dying to self' and surrender, though come in walking forward, even in the worst and most threatening battle, as scriptures denote:
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.Rev 12:11

There are the three things that cause victorious Christianity:

1-The Blood of the Lamb: it is our safety, healing and trust and life
2-The Word of their Testimony ---the Word of God and the Testimony of a life as a written Epistle
3-LOVING NOT THEIR LIVES UNTO DEATH--that is the song of martyrs, God's war heroes.

His Life, and not ours: that is what we promised. When Peter gave up and went back to fishing because the Divine became too much to handle, Jesus appear on a work-a-day beach, cooking fish for breakfast, extending and reminding of the great calling: Peter, do you love me? Well Peter, like most of us kept saying yes, but finally admits his frailty: instead of rebuking him as Jesus once did, He affirms him in his call:"Feed My Sheep", Feed My Lambs". He did not talk to Peter about 401k benefits, his children's college fund, or whether he would ever be given even a change of clothing: Jesus simply commissioned him. The Mind of Christ.


Surrender & Self-Less-Ness

October 27th, 2005

I spent most of my professional years in my career study 'The Self'. Now, after almost 30 years since I first started, I have no more idea what that is than any one else who has studied the concept. It is the proverbial blind men and the elephant, all see it for the part in vision and all declare, 'there, that is an elephant!'. Popular ideas though on afternoon talk shows and women's magazines concentrate on 'self-esteem' , almost never defining it or realizing that recent research shows that the more of 'it' one has, the less becoming a person they will be towards others! Other studies look at body image, body boundaries, self-definition, and a whole bevy of terms which would warm only the heart of William James who laid the foundation of that impending ziggurat.

That ziggurat, not unlike the one built at Babel, amounted to the same end and purpose: man seeking divinity for himself, to 'work' his way to the heavens, and the end of that way: chaos and confusion.

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.Genesis 11:9

That scattering is well known: if we travel outside of the 'known' we often cannot communicate, we have suffered confusion since failing to be the proverbial 'family of man' and often doing things very differently from one another. We have now gone so far as to reap the same confusion in the House of God: the number of bible 'translations' or paraphrases grows daily, doctrine doesn't really matter, and everyone is most interested not in the love and excellence of Jesus but in what they can get for themselves.

One of the great distinctions in the Mind of Christ vs the mind of man, is that towards the self. Self may also be roughly equated with 'soul': the Greek word 'psyche' refers to the soul based upon Greek legend, and though it would cause Psychologists to shudder, psychology is more rightfully the 'study of the soul' than the less spiritual rendering 'self'. to be continued.....

The great tragedy of our modern version of Christianity, is that the natural or world's view of man has far taken over the the true Gospel concept of self or soul: that while it identifies us to ourselves and others, and provides a sort of 'glue' across time to keep stability in our lives, it is the putting away of self
, the dying to self, and surrender to God's way and not ours, which brings the hallmark of the Gospel: God's ways are far above ours, and bountifully worth knowing.

As a Child

October 25th, 2005

" And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3"

When we have only the natural mind, we are blind to the most critical ways and nature of God. It took the blinding light of Glory for Paul to come to terms that for all his KNOWLEDGE, he was without understanding. He was daily in the Word, the Torah---he had the best teaching of men on earth at the time, he participated from what can be read daily in the synagogue or Temple and in his own words, was zealous. There was a 'crossing over' though, that he had missed, without which one 'knows' about God, maybe even with expertise, whatever that is, but does not walk with God in fullness.

When I first came to the LORD [or vice versa], it did not happen in a blinding light. I was a University professor at a medical school at the time, and had no real thoughts for God. Raised Catholic and attending church often as a young person [often means as many times as a Baptist]; at home we had tapestries of Jesus on the wall, my mother painted a few religious pictures, and there were pictures of Mary, the sacred heart, crucifixes, and other religious paraphenalia. I was taught mostly in the ordinances of the Church, only secondarily in the Bible, and that was usually sections out of a missal, with latin or other readings until Vatican II changed everything and we could sing folk music at Mass. By 16, I felt I had no need for religion or church, and spent years floundering with different philosophical perspectives, particularly humanism and existentialism. In college most of us were at best 'agnostic' or atheist, or more realistically young and busy with other things. The first time I remember considering whether there really was some kind of God as an adult was when I was driving through the hills of North Carolina, and overcome with the beauty, just began to at least question whether there really was a God. Subsequently after several years of trials, and while successful on a professional level, life had become tough as it does for many: I was a single parent having suffered a divorce, had a child with juvenile diabetes and a toddler, an oppressive situation at work, new mortgage and so on. One afternoon, while my son took a nap and my daughter was still at public school, I picked up a Bible which had been given to her and which had since fallen in the washer, and began to peel apart the pages, serendipitously. I began reading the book of Proverbs, which I realized later was a providential place to start for a wondering psychologist, and I began to think that just perhaps there was more wisdom to the 'way people are' than what is found in psychology alone.

Not long after, I began talking to some co-workers who were Christians, who suggested some readings, but I just kept reading. This lengthy preface leads to the passage that convicted me that the Word was real, God was real, Jesus was real and if that was true than so was everything else He spoke of. The passage was:

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:14-18

The other passage which strongly convicted me was the passage at the beginning of this blog:
" And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

The first overwhelmed me, because after much reading, I realized that was the choice, the choice every living person must make, whether a youth or a university professor, whether an urbanite or a tribesmen, all were counted alike in that choice, "Whom say ye that I AM?" Jesus does not leave many choices. If He was the Jewish Messiah, then everything else was true, and if not then all 'truths' are as good as another. But he was seen calming the winds and waves, healing the sick, feeding massive crowds from hardly anything at all, raising the dead: all this was seen not just by his own, but by soldiers from Rome and Pharisees and Saduccees who had no vested interest in defending him, in fact the opposite. But after the discussion about who others said he was, what King herod had said, or speculation among the clergy or prophets, His question is directed at Peter Whom say YE that I AM? [The I AM always finds a way to introduce himself in important situations]. And the reply? Seem not remarkable? It was the foundation of the house He would build. The Jewish fisherman declares Him the Messiah, the Son the Living God. One statement setting sail to 2000 years of faith, and the question repeated billions of times.
But what Jesus says next is also remarkable: He lets Peter [Simon} know that he did not receive that thought of his own ability or reasoning, but that it was REVEALED to him by His Father in Heaven. This was DIVINE knowledge and the beginning of a new mind. It was also the one point of faith that caused Jesus to give Simon Peter the keys to the Kingdom, and the point of faith upon which His Kingdom would stand.

The Second Passage is the critical passage to understanding how anyone wrestling with belief comes to the LORD at all in these days when the world hates faith and tries to destroy it: conversion is not coming up to an altar and signing a pledge card, or kneeling at one and receiving bread, or any of the other things one sees readily, but COMING AS A CHILD.
A Child trusts a parent: one has to trust the one who saves. Further, especially among bright and academic people, the idea of 'becoming like a child' is not enticing, many consider it the putting away of reason. But it is not putting away reason, only exchanging it for divine reason. One has to let go of pre-conceived notions of the 'way the world is' in order to be taught of God. When one can look and trust, deciding what really happened on that dark afternoon on Golgotha that changed the world, then one enters life: life that will last.

It was terribly difficult for me to surrender to that kind of trust and belief: I was a researcher---I wanted evidence. But Salvation or the healing of man to God, the saving for Eternal Life from everlasting suffering, and the atonement for ALL sin and separation from God that we might continue even after death in His presence: this is the high calling: but we have to trust in the very same manner as a child trusts his mother or father. When you do, you will find the rest to be true and worth suffering and dying for.

Spurgeon, the great London preacher constantly preached his theme: "Look and Believe". Pascal the great philosopher/mathematician/scientist had a childlike trusting faith in Jesus with no apologies. The list of scientists, even pivotal ones such as Pasteur and Fahrenheit and others, learned to believe as children, even beyond the gift of Salvation to the 6 day creation. No doctrinal matter is one of human reason and 'convincing': human reason cannot explain God. The first and most critical basis for coming to the Messiah that saves, that has already saved, is to enter in at the door, and become as a child: not exchanging human reason for stupidity or blind leaps, but for the wisdom of God. This is the foundational principle of the Mind of Christ.

Next Blog: Surrender and Self-less-ness

The Mind of Christ

October 24th, 2005

Our Conversation is in HeavenI am beginning this new blog in order to express in an ordered fashion, what I have learned about the "Mind of Christ". I would not ever claim 'expertise', anyone would be foolish to do this, but I have learned a few things over 20 years, which may perhaps build up new believers and those farther along.

I obtained my doctorate in Psychology in 1981 from the University of Florida in Psychology, specializing in "Personality Psychology" [it is hardly called that any more], and while I was occasionally teased in graduate school about having too many interests, my specializations were in Thanatological issues including Mourning and Bereavement, Death Anxiety, and other aspects of death and dying. Later my interests developed into Holocaust, or Shoah Studies, especially studies of the Church and Faith in the Shoah. Also, though, before entering mostly into thanatological issues, I studied Self-Concept and Definition, Depersonalization phenomena in normals, and related concepts on what people mean when they say 'Self'. If I was to be asked now, I would reply, there are as many definitions as there are people asked.

The above description is not written at all to impress, but to show that the first part of my adult life and much of my professional career was spent studying the world's way of thinking. I was either trained or had interests in psychology and deviant behavior, Existential and 'humanistic' psychology and other branches of philsophy, psychology and ethical considerations. In short, I was fairly well introduced into the way the world thinks, or what I will call in this blog 'natural thinking'. The Mind of Man. Some 30 years after entering college for the first time, our understanding of the person remains a little chaotic, a little divisive and misunderstood. It also changes constantly.

The Revelation of a Different Way of thinking
After having taught at several Universities for the first few years of my career, I became a Christian: a miracle only God could produce, a Psychologist becoming a Believer! I was once told by a faculty coordinator at a large Northern U that of all the faculty who attended Campus Crusade's bible studies, the faculty least represented was that of Psychology Departments. I suspect this is because they are not predisposed to 'faith' having been trained for years to assess every thought and possibility, and I have never seen research psychologists entertain a concept such as love, fear, hate etc without first 'operationalizing' it or giving it a discreet number of defining terms and criteria. The Well-Known Psychologist Rollo May tells the story of a psychologist who gets to heaven, and attempts to read his CV [resume] and show copies of published articles as to why he should get into heaven. St. Peter listens carefully, and then informs him, that none of that had anything to do with getting into heaven. The Psychologist asks the reason for his refusal, his great sin, and he is told 'nimis simplicandum'---he is guilty of taking a valuable creation and reducing it to its simplist level: love becomes 'attachment behaviors', nobility becomes a self-satisfying altruism, and so on. But that, is the Mind of Man.

The Mind of Christ

There are a few scriptures we hear often if we stay in the Word, though, which call us to a different 'mind'---the mind of Christ. Says one passage in Corinthians

" For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1Corinthians 2:16"

It is clear that when we come to Christ, and are privileged to the adoption in the Holy Spirit, that our walk with our Redeemer and Messiah is not to stop there. Even before Heaven, even before the Rapture, there is to be a transformation in the way we live and think. We leave behind the old ways, and come to the New Life which we are gifted with. This entails a change of heart and thinking

The strength to do that does not come through our own intuition or adaption of old ideas, it comes through the revelation God gives us through the Word and the Holy Spirit. There is also a process in shaping and changing our minds to agree with the Mind of God, the Mind of Christ. It is not as too many people suppose just mean you change political parties or positions, or start liking Christian music instead of pop, etc, it is a whole way of life. He alone is the instrument of that change, although we often choose to get in the way.

Says another passage:

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel- Phl 1:27

The Apostle Paul is one of the most notable examples of this change to the Mind of Christ which took place beginning on the Damascus road. He is on his way to persecute and arrest, perhaps even kill the new Christians [little christs], when the Lord appears to him, knocking him from his horse, crying 'Saul, saul, why persecutest thou me?" Even in this small beginning, we see a difference between the mind of Christ and the mind of man: if someone was on the way to hurt our loved ones, we would immediately react with violent opposition: but God sees the Paul who will be: the great champion of the faith, who will teach his people from his epistles for the next 2000 years.

More than that, the Rabbi Paul was in training for a position of leadership in Israel, having been brought up at the "feet of Gamaliel".

I am verily a man [which am] a Jew, born in Tarsus, [a city] in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, [and] taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Acts 22:3

He has obtained, or at least been very schooled in the 'mind of man', or 'the Natural Mind': he has studied even the scriptures from early in the way prescribed, with the theories and commentaries of men, and their methods and theologies. His first encounter with Christ leaves him somewhat bewildered, and he is shown that he is blind to the ways of God: but rather than condemning Paul, he begins with the first lesson: coming as a Child to a loving Father. This arrogant young 'theologian' who would probably have sat on or even led the Sanhedrin, confronts the God of Heaven, instead of the God of men's thinking and dogma. Do not consider this a 'Jewish' issue: there are just as many Churchgoers, who know the Word, the hymns, and who even have degrees in Divinity, who have met God only in the Natural Mind. By the time God has finished his re-education which appears to last even 14 years,

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also. Galatians 2:1

In my own experience, I learned this early in my walk, as God called me out of everything I had known and trained for: it did not seem 'logical': it did not seem like God would have done that, so for 2 or 3 years after I became a Christian, I danced first this way, then that, and did not understand why He did not just 'stamp with approval' what I was already doing. After years, though circumstances and trials have been sometimes overwhelming, partly through persecution and partly through a lack of total obedience, I have come to understand that His purposes and ours do not match in rank order: He was more interested in preparing me to have His mind, His Life, and to be fit to live in His presence in Eternity than momentary comfort. At the time I was doing 'a good work': working with families experiencing Perinatal Death, but even then, my mind had so formed in Psychological thinking and natural logic, that had I continued, I would have done it the world's way, and probably soon fell out of a relationship with Him. As one of the scriptures above notes, a conversation in the Gospel of Christ: the hymn 'Away in the Manger' by Martin Luther has a last line which in the original reads,

"fit us for Heaven to live with you there".

There is no doubt that Salvation is not EARNED, it is a gift from God: this is the core of the Gospel replete in the Old and New Testament, but after we are given this gift, He begins the arduous task in our life of making us ready to be in His Presence: a two year old, if he remains with the manners of a two year old, would find an uncomfortable situation at a State Dinner!!!

We are taught often about the change of life and heart, and these are critical: Paul acknowledges that above every gift of 'power' and discernment is Love: we are nothing without that. However even the Love of God must be transformed in our thinking: our paltry concepts of love in the flesh or carnal mind are of no value: our vision, our feelings, our willingness to surrender, our way of looking at the LORD and His Word and other issues necessitate His transforming power in our lives. Sometimes that takes years.

With each entry in this blog, a different and fundamental issue of the 'Mind of Christ' will be examined: all will be found tied entirely to His Word. In the Next Blog, we will look at 'Coming to the LORD as a Child'.Elizabeth K.Best

2. 84.