Christian discipleship is a departure in thinking and action from much of what you now know or have learned. Christ’s disciples have always struggled with this concept. Paul said Christians are not to conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of their minds. This means learning to think like God thinks. What? Impossible you say? Not so.
If you read the Gospels, you will find Jesus continually teaching those who listened (and those who didn’t) how God looked at things. Happy (blessed) are the meek, the persecuted, the reviled, and the falsely accused. The first shall be last and the last first. Give and you will receive. Delay gratification, take no thought for tomorrow, or what you’re going to wear, or what you’re going to eat. Whatsoever you would have people do to you, do that for them…first. You get the idea.
I recently made some radical changes in my diet that I had put off for years for various reasons. One reason I told myself was that I would be giving up the things I loved. This is not true, so if you are telling yourself that, slap yourself. I gave up nothing…I exchanged some things for other things. Do I love the new things…you bet I do. Christian thinking and action is a lot like that. It’s not giving things up, but there are exchanges that need to be made.
Some of the prohibitions you may have heard Christians demand of each other are simply not true. They are usually overreaction on the part of the unlearned. You remember the individualized plan I said God has for you? Listen to Christian advice, but remember that not everyone comes to the came lessons in the same order at the same time…and sometimes we do not even come to the same conclusions. Consult your plan and go with that plan unless and until God tells you otherwise.
And there’s another diversion from worldly thinking…yes, God communicates with Christians directly. Prayer is an ongoing conversation. Speak, but listen too. I have found God more eager to talk to me than I am to hear. You will find God rarely comes on the scene and lays out your immediate future in an audible voice, but that does not mean God is silent or uninterested. It usually means we are not listening.
One thing you can be sure of, God does not mean for you to idle your life away. The greatest bit of wisdom I can share with you about the mind of God comes from Solomon (a wise man who acted very foolishly at times). Inspired by the Spirit of God, he wrote, “To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance… a time to get and a time to lose…a time to keep silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate.”
Knowing the times and the seasons is an exercise in knowing the mind of God. It’s not simple, but it can be done… St. Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who…made himself of no reputation, and took on the form of a servant..he humbled himself and became obedient…” and again, “But we have the mind of Christ.”
One more word, Christianity isn’t just about thinking a certain way…it is about acting on what you think. Words and actions are inseparable…say what you do and do what you say.
“If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled;’ notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being alone…show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works.”