What do you see? How are you hearing this conversation? How are you thinking about this? What do these circumstances mean to you? With these kinds of questions asked of Jesus, I tried to interrupt the normal, conditioned responses I make to my environment.
Here is what I have learned so far. First, I could not always get past my own thoughts to his- maybe sometimes I did not want to. Second, even when I sensed clearly what his mind was about a given circumstance, I did not always line up my behavior with his thoughts. Third, there were times when I was not sure that the thoughts were his, or mine. Having acknowledged those failures and shortcomings, I will say that trying to tap into the mind of Christ has been a pretty amazing experience.
Sometimes I think I am a bit ADD- my thoughts wander a lot and I don’t stay easily focused. So it was surprising that I have been able to remember throughout the day that I am trying to access the mind of Christ. Perhaps it is because I began everyday before my feet hit the floor asking God to help me have the mind of Christ today. I think he helped me remember- whether I was on a bus or subway, studying in Starbucks, or watching the Yankees slug their way into the World Series (hey- I have to cheer for the Yankees- Paul said he became all things to all people so that by all means he might win some- so I am just doing my part…, see what I mean by ADD?). Here are a few of my experiences so far- some fairly unimportant, others more critical.
Smoking in the Park: I went to spend a couple of hours in one of my favorite parks in Manhattan- Madison Square Park. I brought my Bible, journal, i-pod, and spent a couple of hours in “solitude” as hundreds of people walked by. It was a beautiful fall day. I was enjoying being outside, enjoying God, enjoying sitting. Then a man sat down near me and began to smoke a large, smelly cigar. The wind was blowing the smoke right into my face. I became irritated, and began to think some nasty thoughts about this inconsiderate man. Wait- the mind of Christ. I redirected my thoughts. “Craig, you don’t know this man, but I do. He is of infinite value to me. Forget the cigar smoke. He is so much more than that. Your thoughts of him are not my thoughts. What if he could read your mind? Would your thoughts attract him to me?” Then I began to look at all the people walking around and playing with their dogs, and sitting in the park. And I think I saw what Jesus was seeing- so many people, all of infinite value to him, and most unaware of God’s love, and lost. As Jesus said, like sheep without a shepherd. And I began to weep, right there on that public bench. I felt like my heart was going to burst. A pretty big shift in thinking from negative thoughts about Mr. Cigar Smoke in My Face to compassion for the people of NYC!
Trash- I was walking down the street in my neighborhood and noticed all the trash. I don’t like trash on my sidewalks. The guy in front of me couldn’t make it another 45 seconds to the trash cans that are on every street corner in the city. “Someone needs to pick up this trash”, I thought. The mind of Christ. “You are the someone. This is your city, your neighborhood. Invest in it by helping to clean it up.” So on the way to the subway, I picked up trash and deposited it the trash can on the corner. I don’t know if this is going to become a regular thing.
Conflict- I walked into a situation where someone was had just finished being fairly rude to another person. I knew both of these people, and knew enough to know that “Jeff” was out of line. Jeff left the scene of the crime quickly, and after talking to the other party, I went on my way. For awhile, I was processing the situation and what needed to be done without consciously remembering that I have the mind of Christ. Since this was someone I know and care about, I was planning an appropriate “confrontation”. When I finally got around to redirecting my experience to the mind of Christ, and asked him what he thought of the conversation, I saw things very differently, and more importantly, I felt inclined to do something very differently than my initial thoughts about what to do. And I felt a gentle “rebuke” myself from Jesus that my thoughts had been overly harsh and critical.
Hospital Waiting Room- My friend Dave broke his hand on a fall down slippery subway stairs. He had to have some pins put into his hands. As he was recovering from surgery, I waited with his wife Michelle late into the evening in the waiting room. As we waited and waited and watched the clock, Others were there waiting as well. One young man had just stepped out into the hallway and spoken as well to someone I assumed was a surgeon. When he returned, he was pacing and seemed agitated. I was tired and sat eating my candy corn (I love vegetables). As I watched this man, I remembered the mind of Christ. “What do you see?” I knew he saw a man who was there alone and was going through a difficult time. So I asked him who he was waiting for. That resulted in a conversation about his wife’s 12 hour surgery to her face that involved taking a bone from her leg and using it to replace part of her jaw bone. The tumor had been discovered in her jaw while she was pregnant with their first child, and they could not treat it until the child was born. So it grew and grew, and now they were facing a serious situation. Mattingly was born a few months back and now they are facing this ordeal. When he finally left for home, another couple who had been waiting shared their story of a loved one having an emergency appendectomy. The mind of Christ shoed me that in a hospital waiting room, there are no strangers.
There was so much more that has happened as I have been more conscious that I have the mind of Christ. I know there is still much that I miss- and as I said, some that I ignore or resist. But it has been and hopefully will continue to be a helpful way of learning to live in the presence of Jesus. He may be with me always, but I am not always with him.