Friday, October 23, 2009

The Mind of Christ, Part 1

When you think about it, what an amazing promise and an amazing gift…the mind of Christ! I have been reading through the gospels over and over for the last 12 years, and I so much want to be like Jesus. I want his compassion and his love and his wisdom. And I know how far away I am from being like him. But then, Paul writes to the Corinthians that we, that I, have his mind!

A few years ago there was a lot of attention given to the question “What would Jesus Do?” Of course, often it is not clear what he would do because he lived 2000 years ago when the world was very different. I recall seeing a article in the paper during the WWJD phenomenon entitled “What Would Jesus Drive?” I don’t see the issue of the kind of car Jesus would drive addressed in the gospels: compact, environmentally friendly car…a rugged SUV… American made or Japanese? Jesus didn’t live in our time when we face these kinds of questions, and many, more important ones. And yet, he is living in these times, in his followers, and we have his mind!

I admit to wearing a WWJD bracelet back then. I discovered that not only was it not always clear what he would do, but there where times when I knew exactly what he would do and I decided to do something different. Knowing what Jesus would do, and then actually doing it are not the same thing.

We have the mind of Christ. The mind directs the body (recall the Church is called the Body of Christ- he is the head). As I continued to reflect on this, I began to picture his mind being totally available to me, 24/7. And I wondered, what if I set about to intentionally direct all of my sensory data and experiences to his mind? Everything of course would come first to my mind, but in a split-second I could raise the question, what about your mind, Jesus? How are you experiencing and seeing this situation. In a sense, I would attempt to unplug my sensory input from my mind and plug it into to his mind. (By the way, I know this is probably not the theologically correct to understand what is meant by the mind of Christ, but my theological correctness has not consistently produced the Christ-likeness I desire).

So here is the experiment. I would wake up each day and begin by remembering that I have the mind of Christ, and I would thank God for this. I would attempt to keep that thought close by all day. And then, as I experienced my day, I would consciously re-direct my sensory data to his mind. For example, as I would see things, I would ask Jesus, “what are you seeing?” As I would hear things, I would ask Jesus, “what are you hearing?”

As I write these words, I am not entirely sure how they are different from the WWJD question. But they feel different to me. I am not reaching back 2000 years ago to someone I respect and asking the theoretical question of what he would do. He is with me- his mind is present and accessible to me in the here and now circumstances. I am not accessing the body of teaching of Jesus recorded for us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I am in conversation with Jesus himself, fully present now- the mind of Christ.

Just to be clear (and probably redundant), the process is to live remembering that I have his mind. Then, as I experience life, I consciously direct my experience to his mind. Then I listen. Then I act.

In the first few days of this experiment, I happened to be invited to a talk given in Harlem by former pastor and author Ed Dobson. His book “The Year of Living Like Jesus” had just been published. If I was looking for God to confirm that I was on the right track, I got it that morning.

Ed began his talk with the words: Christians are into what you believe more than how you live. Guilty. The test of faith for me has always been more about belief than behavior, which is such an unbiblical idea (think Matt 25- I never knew you.). It’s not either or. The two cannot be separated.

In the introduction to his book, Dobson writes:

“One of the desires of a disciple is the desire to be just like the rabbi. The disciple wants to walk like the rabbi, talk like the rabbi, live like the rabbi, move like the rabbi, respond like the rabbi…I want to be like Jesus. I too want to walk like him, talk like him, live like him, move like him, respond like him.”

I have his mind. Should not my body then be able to follow him, and to be like him?

I have probably now exceeded the attention span of anyone who has read this far, so I am going to report on what actually happened as I attempted to live by the mind of Christ in my next blog entry. Plus, I want to give it a bit more time.

1 comment:

Pam Talluto said...

This takes me back somehow, these two sentences: "I would wake up each day and begin by remembering that I have the mind of Christ, and I would thank God for this. I would attempt to keep that thought close by all day." So I went and found it, remember, that scrapbook I made about your NC message "I Am With You Always"?

It was May 24, 2006. You said, "He is with us, but are we with Him?" Then you challenged us, "when you put your clothes on tomorrow morning, let that remind you of Jesus. Throughout the day when you look at your clothes, remember that when you got up in the morning and put these clothes on, you put Jesus on." Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ - Romans 13:14.

Shortly after that message, I bought a little silver ring engraved "Jesus" to remind me that He is always with me .. I still wear it today. It will now also remind me that I have the mind of Christ!

Here's the last part of your prayer from that night three and a half years ago repeated tonight: "Help us to grow, teach us how to put You on like we put on our clothes, how to wear You all day long, how to let You cover us and protect us. In your name we pray. Amen."