Have you ever wished to have the mind of a genius? Someone like Albert Einstein, Mozart, or Leonardo da Vinci? Maybe a politician like Abe Lincoln or Winston Churchill. Maybe Galileo, Plato, or Socrates. At Christmas I was given a book of wisdom by sports coach John Wooden. Great minds, geniuses.
I really would like to have the mind of Jesus Christ.
The mind is a physical organ – the brain – which directs all bodily functions and movements. It is also our speech. It’s the seat of our intelligence, reason, and logic, our cognitive understanding, our ability to recognize, make judgments.
It’s the source of our creativity. The mind sets goals for the human will. It’s not only our consciousness but also our subconscious.
It’s where dreams float and memory is stored. It’s the resolve of new commitments. It’s our self-awareness and self-definition. In the application of our minds, we solve problems, gain knowledge, process life experiences, pursue curiosities, and form our personal character.
The Bible says, “As a man thinks, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). Aristotle said, “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing is at last sacred except the integrity of the mind.” Maybe that is why Mahatma Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.” American author Mark Twain, with tongue-in-cheek, said, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.”
Have you lost your mind? As a man thinks, so is he. The Bible speaks about spiritual rebellion as losing our mind or losing our senses. In spiritual rebellion, we live as if there is no God. It is a mindset not only of defiance but also one that journeys away from God as the source of life and our heavenly Father. Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden, saw that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a delight to eyes and desired to make one wise. They were seduced into thinking they knew better than God what was best for them.
This is the root of spiritual rebellion – when we think we know better than God. We begin to believe the lies of the enemy, which further confuses our minds.
In II Corinthians 4:4 we read, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so they do not see the light of the gospel in the glory of Jesus Christ . . .” We then forget our identity. We develop spiritual amnesia and begin to live like orphans. We forget we are children of God, children of our heavenly Father and, like the prodigal in Jesus’ story in Luke 15, we begin to live as if we have no father.
Have you lost your mind? I like Jesus’ story in Mark chapter 5 when He encounters the Gerasene demoniac among the tombs. This man is possessed and controlled by evil spirits, but Jesus sets him free. It says that after Jesus sets him free, he is clothed and has been restored to his right mind.
That’s why one goes from spiritual rebellion to repentance. The word literally means “a change of mind.” To repent means my mind is now reoriented to accept the way God thinks about life. When the prodigal, on his journey of brokenness, realized he had a heavenly Father, it says he came to his senses. He not only remembered that he had a Father, but also that the heart of his Father was good and full of love. So he decided to go home to his earthly father. This is repentance. We change our mind and begin to think like God thinks.
Paul writes in Romans, “By the mercies of God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice . . . Don’t be conformed to this world, to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (12:1-2). The Greek word is metamorphosis. It’s a process of transformation as our minds are renewed. Then our minds will guide our bodies to offer ourselves continually as a sacrifice to serve the purposes of God.
I say it often, “Any dead fish can float downstream.” Have you ever known people who believe the gospel, know their Bibles, come to church and worship regularly, but they experience no transformation in their life, in their ethic, in the pattern of how they live?
We long for transformation. According to this passage in Romans 12, the whole of transformation starts with our mind. The appeal is based on all of God’s mercies – God’s eternal love shown to unworthy sinners like me. It is the grace of Jesus that saves me in a way I could never earn. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit living within me to comfort and counsel my mind and empower a new life. Peace with God, hope, freedom, eternal life – all these mercies of God free me up to offer myself in response to God as a sacrifice.
It begins with the renewing of my mind – like a computer processing the data I put into it – but more than that because my mind is warped. I live with what Luther calls “the bondage of my will.” What we need is to have our minds changed in a spiritual regeneration. We need to ask the Spirit of Jesus to come in as we surrender to Jesus’ presence and ask Him to recreate a right mind within us. We need to acknowledge the infection of our flawed thinking and wrong priorities, our dirty thinking, our corrupted perceptions. We need Jesus as the Great Physician to cut those thoughts out and do a cathartic purge of all the garbage in our minds.
In AA circles they call it stink’n think’n. It is where my attitudes are so self-oriented and my victim mindset is such that I can’t think straight. We need Jesus to purge, clean, and recreate our minds. We need ask Jesus to heal our minds with His forgiving grace and heal our memories.
Many of us have had formative experiences, which have left our inner psyche wounded, affecting us even to the present moment. Jesus, the Eternal One, can enter into our memories and heal us to think correctly.
• The Word of God powerfully renews our mind. It exposes my foolishness and the shallowness of the world’s priority. In the same way that light dispels darkness, the Word of God can dispel my ignorance.
• The Word of God creates and deepens faith within me to trust all of God’s promises.
• The Word of God renews my mind again and again by revealing God’s will for my life, God’s wisdom for my life, and the principles of life, which bring blessings.
• The Word of God renews my mind by saturating my consciousness with the love of God, which creates a fountain of joy in my inner spirit.
When I was 18 years old, I had a spiritually renewing experience in my faith. It renewed my commitment to Jesus Christ not only as my Savior but also as my Lord. In the aftermath of that renewed commitment of faith, I developed an insatiable appetite for the Word of God. I loved the Word! I loved reading the stories of the Old and New Testaments. I loved becoming reacquainted with the characters of the Bible – how they walked with God, and how God used their lives to do powerful and significant things in the course of their journey. I loved reading the promises of God’s Word.
I love the Word of God, and when I immerse myself into it, my mind is renewed to right-thinking. In both I Corinthians 2 and Philippians 2, the Scriptures promise us that we now have the mind of Christ. According to Philippians, Jesus, because of His mindset, emptied Himself out. He did not hold onto privilege or power, but completely surrendered to His Father’s will and His Father’s mission. He surrendered Himself to be not only a man but also a slave.
The word in Greek is Doúlos. Although the Old Testament contains hundreds of references to the word slave and the Greek New Testament one hundred fifty references, rarely do we use the word slave in the English Bible. Instead, in the English it’s usually translated servant or bondservant. Somehow the translators thought slave was too strongly negative or belittling to use because it implies that we belong to someone else.
The corollary of the word slave in the New Testament is Kurios, which is Lord. You and I develop a mindset that we are slaves of the kurios, Jesus Christ. I am a slave of the Lord Jesus. I belong to Him. He has paid for my life. He has bought me with His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. I gladly say, I am the slave of Jesus. I belong to Him. Therefore, I want to give myself away, like Jesus did, to forgive and love all people, no matter what it costs. That is the mind of Jesus Christ.
Scripture encourages us to focus our minds on the things above, to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. It says in Philippians, “Whatever is good and lovely and excellent, beautiful, of good report, focus your mind on these things, and the God of peace shall be with you” (4:8-9). However, the new mind Christ gives us is also committed in a resolve that’s ready for action to serve God every day.
Lastly, the new mind Jesus Christ gives to us resonates in harmony with the will of God for us. We are of a mindset to live in total obedience to God.
A number of years ago, I heard the Rev. Susan Briehl, the director of Holden Village in the Pacific Northwest, tell a story of a woman from Seattle. As a beautiful young teenage girl, she found her beauty to be a curse. Her home was cold and harsh. It had no love. She was abused, used, and had no encouragement.
Unfortunately, she learned to use her looks like a weapon. Her smile could open doors at a young age, and eventually she became addicted to alcohol and drugs. She left home and never finished school, surviving on the streets in the way one would think. She was in and out of jail and treatment facilities, and lived in places not fit for anyone. Her life became reduced to a rhythm of addiction and exploitation.
One Sunday morning about 6:00, the police received a report of a young woman sitting in the middle of a six-lane freeway without a stitch of clothing. When the police arrived, the woman was staring off into space. As they immediately covered her with a blanket, they heard her repeating the phrase, “Never forget. Never forget. Never forget . . .” The policeman asked her what they shouldn’t forget, but she just kept repeating those words. When the ambulance arrived, the medical people listened to the same mantra: “Never forget. Never forget. Never forget . . .”
When the ambulance arrived at the hospital emergency room, the medical staff began to examine her to see if she was all right, and she continued to say, “Never forget. Never forget. Never forget . . .”
Finally, almost as if she finally saw someone for the first time, she locked eyes with a medical staff person and said, “Never forget. Never forget. I am a child of God. I am a child of God. I am a child of God . . .”
In that phrase is the key to the mind of Christ – that I know and believe I am a forgiven child of God. Jesus Christ has made me His own, and my whole purpose of living is to be a follower of Christ and offer my life to love others and forgive them in Jesus’ name.
In Christ we have a new mind. In Christ we move from rebellion to repentance. Jesus renews us in the power of His Spirit, and our minds resonate with the will of God to forgive and love in Jesus’ name.
May you have the mind of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. Lee Laaveg