Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Think For Yourself?

Haven’t you often heard the imperative, “Think for yourself?” In many respects, this blog repeatedly encourages the believer to at very least think. But, in these times of social media and ever-growing Internet usage we are under so many external influences that it can be difficult to know when we are thinking for ourselves and when we are not. Unless you are a discerning and rather aware and deliberate person, you most likely don't even always know when your thinking is not your own. This is often bad, but in one scenario for the Christian this can be good. While it is important to think, as Christians we are ever reminded to not just think for ourselves, but rather to think as God thinks. But, this is something so few Christians attempt to practice.

For example, all too often many Christians begin spiritual declarations with the words, “Well, I think…” If you regularly do this, have you ever paused to consider what you are about to declare? You are about to declare what you think individually on a spiritual matter. You are about to declare what you think probably from the source of your corrupt flesh detached from the moorings of the only source of spiritual wisdom, the Holy Spirit. You are probably about to declare your earthly thoughts without the exclusive benefit of God’s. But, Christians are supposed to have the mind of Christ.

Too many Christians, however, invoke the phrase “the mind of Christ” like they throw around trite hash-tags. But, the mind of Christ is something that is so deep and so consuming, it should frighten our corrupt flesh, not embolden it. For followers of Christ to “take up their cross,” that also means that their minds must too be nailed to the cross on which Christ brutally died. And, instead of our fleshly thinking coming to the forefront of our minds and mouths, we are to forsake our corrupt minds for that of Christ’s. That means I am to no longer “think for myself.” Rather we endeavor to think only by Christ, through Christ, for Christ and to Christ. On spiritual matters, we are to think only His thoughts and share only His opinions. We are to adopt only His correctness and declare only what He thinks spiritually. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

You might ask, what does this look like? Well, it certainly does not look like someone who claims to be a sold-out follower of Jesus starting spiritual declarations with the phrase, “Well, I think…” Rather, it looks like a foot-washingly humble servant boldly and lovingly declaring what God thinks, with no ifs, ands or buts. The moment that we mix God’s thoughts with corrupt flesh, what results is completely and utterly corrupt. In fact, this corrupt model is what Lucifer displayed for us when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He would always twist scripture towards a fleshly (or carnal) temptation. Are you guilty of mixing scripture with carnality? Are you guilty of declaring your corrupt thinking on spiritual matters in direct conflict with God’s clear leanings? Do you follow along with those who twist scripture towards cultural correctness only to violate the very principles that God commanded? Do you only pay attention to God’s commands and ignore His preferences?

When someone invokes their self-sourced spiritual wisdom, they are superimposing their opinions over God’s, especially when their opinion revises God’s. What does it suggest when someone superimposes their thoughts over God’s? It suggests that the declarer is arrogantly attempting to share God’s throne. It suggests that the declarer values their own opinion above God’s and wishes to influence others to do the same. This is the worst form of idolatry.

By this I am not suggesting that it is wrong to interpret scripture and preach sermons that elaborate upon God’s written word to influence congregants and others to surrender to God. The arrogance or non-arrogance of a spiritual declaration rests upon both the spiritual accuracy coupled with the spiritual intent of one’s declarations. The vast majority of preachers probably do a fine job of humbly directing their congregants away from the preacher and towards Jesus Christ. However, there are those too that are corrupt. But, this post is not primarily directed at them as much as towards those Christians who claim to individually call Jesus “Lord” while forcing His commands to serve their desires.

The bottom line is that God has declared what He has declared. And, in His declaration, we have the entirety and completeness of all true and perfect spiritual wisdom. He needs no editor or cultural post script. Rather, He demands complete surrender to His declarations as final. Anything short, even if well-intended, is a moral offense to who He is. And He is the one and only true God, the Creator of all life and the One to whom all life will be taken.

1 Corinthians 2:16 says, “‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Billy Graham put it well when he said, “The true Christian is a nonconformist.” And, Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...” And, in the verses that follow Paul outlined precisely what the mind of Christ thinks and lives like. Dear Christian, read those verses anew and always measure spiritual intentions against them.

When I used to teach lessons on the subject, I shared a unique illustration of the mind of Christ. I would strap a Bible to the top of my head and describe how all Christians should seek continually to sacrifice their fleshly thinking and substitute it with God’s. We should consume His word as often as we can for the purpose of it overtaking how we think and live. Then, we should declare His word and thinking through verbally and physically radical displays of gracious love to those God places in our lives. Only then will we truly declare and constantly live out the mind of Christ.

In Romans 12:1, Paul (through God) implored all Christians to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God as our spiritual act of worship. In this verse, by use of the word “bodies” God meant our everything, including our minds. This may be difficult to grasp, since our minds are an abstract part of our flesh. But, the mind is where true and lasting sacrifice begins and abides in our flesh.

From now on when waxing spiritually, I encourage you to refrain from beginning a declaration with, “Well, I think…” Instead, from now on, begin such declarations with, “Well, God says…” and make sure you declare what God actually said.

You can follow me on Twitter at @ReasonIfYouWill.