Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Difference in Having a Christian Mind

Here's an example of the difference in having a mind renewed by Christ. One of the major breakthroughs I've experienced in studying the Bible and living life in Christ is the realization that people generally start with the wrong attitude toward understanding God. We tend to approach what's in the Bible with an attitude of confidence in what we already think we know about the world, and when any verse of the Bible or any doctrine seems to be in tension with what we think we already know, we look at it suspiciously and mumble, "Wait, now how can that be true?" In fairness, many of us try hard to examine these things and sort them out instead of just giving up. But often the problem is not with what the Scripture seems to say, but with the assumptions we are already holding on to.

If we are going to try to encounter and learn to understand an infinite God, who exceeds the universe and existed before time, common sense should tell us that He is going to blow away our expectations and be very different from what we suppose. It would be silly for us to think that when we learned anything about God, it would be just like things we already knew and we wouldn't have to correct any of our prior ideas. If we are to know the Lord at all, we are going to have to prepare ourselves for the fact that much of what we think we know will be shown to be very incomplete and flawed.

I wonder if this is what Jesus meant when He said that unless we receive the kingdom of God like little children, we will never enter it. (Matthew 18:1-4; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17). Some interpreters conclude this means we have to receive the kingdom of God with the same helpless dependence with which children depend on parents for food and protection – we must do it relying entirely on God by trust, instead of thinking we can manage it somewhat on our own. I believe that's true, and I think that also implies that we must receive the kingdom of God with a childlike trust that acknowledges how little we really understand. We need to rely instead on the wisdom and judgment of God as a child relies on the guidance of a parent.

This is surely the right attitude to have toward God: instead of thinking we could understand all His reasons and commands if He just explained them, we ought to realize that the mind of the Lord is deeper and vaster than our mind can possibly take in. We shouldn't be surprised if some of the truths God reveals about reality are strange, confusing, or even shocking. Nor should it surprise us that some things are hard to understand and we can't figure them all out right away. We should look to our Father with trust, believing that He knows all of these things and understands them, and that He loves us and will lead us safely through them.

No comments: