15 May The Right Mind: The Mind of Christ
The very fact one would read your mind outside as you enter this article or decide against into the sanctum,’…is indeed the is a choice of the mind… a mind so beautiful. Why a ‘right’ mind, one may ask; it necessitates the fact that choices do have its bearing not just on us but to the world around. Any volition that is derogatory and discriminatory comes from a mind that shall be called not ‘right.’ Growing up as a young Christian, I was told by the leader of my charismatic group not to use the mind to meditate on God or obey him…perhaps we were not allowed to think nor question how we were led ‘spiritually.’ As absurd as it is , the call to ‘leave your footwear and mind abused.
Mind in the Scriptures reflects its cultural settings be it Hebrew or Greek. ‘The Old Testament terms that serve as references to the mind or reason most often (especially “heart,” “spirit,” “soul”) are not limited to these meanings, but cover a wide range of ideas as they seek to describe the inward or invisible dimensions of the human being in a holistic manner. The Hebrew culture, therefore did not separate parts of the inner person, but each is a reference to the whole inner person and is to be viewed in relation to the body. As a result, the inner thought and knowledge dimension is regarded in close relation to right conduct.’
The array of terms that figure in the development of the concept of the mind and reason in the Greek speaking world include a number related to the basic term ‘nous.’ Primarily through the ‘nous’ wordgroup, the New Testament employs a broad concept of the mind. It includes one’s “worldview” or outlook and the way in which it influences perception. But the particular perspective can vary. It extends to ideas such as disposition and inner orientation or moral inclination.’ So, throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the mind is alternatively the thought system and the faculty of conscious reflection and perception – it represents the person as a whole. It is with the mind that decisions are made, whether moral or amoral in nature. It is with the mind, that one chooses to accept God and obey Him, or to reject Him and rebel against Him. As the Body of Christ, our calling is to incarnate the mind of Christ. As created in God’s image, “God’s express will for the Church is that ‘all attain to the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). This is to incarnate the mind of Christ in the church of God”
While this topic can be all exhaustive, I choose to reflect from the following key elements;
1. Creative Mind
And God created the human in his image, In the image of God He created him, Male and female he created them (Gen. 1:27)
God’s six days of activity culminates, the writer of Genesis says, in the creation of human beings. Created in His image, God blesses them, challenging them to procreate, and assigning them a stewardship role over creation…. this was indeed very good (1:28- 31). Created with a mind that is both comprehendible and dignified, the first human being applies the mind to name the animals that God gives under his care. Naming (nomenclature) has been the creative effort of man from thence on and continues till date. Any effort to give names shares not only a sense of belongingness, but altogether more the wisdom that this ‘image of God’ demonstrated through the exercise of a right mind; as he blends into the ‘balance and beauty of the created world’. To not call a monkey a fish and an elephant an ant is not just the play of words but much more the creative and sensible classifications through wisdom and imaginations that God has endowed humans with.
Also the same story (Gen. 2) portrays how Adam had the rational to say that none of these created beings (animals) could be his ezer kenegdo (sustainerbeside-him). And when the human “does not accept what God presents (the animals); God’s accepts the human decision and goes back to the drawing board.” Does this not reveal how human mind had the freedom of choice when rightly reasoned and – God honoured it ! This creative mind not only reasoned but also revealed a dignity par excellence. Adam unequivocally exclaimed that Eve, part of his own self and yet different, was indeed a beauty to behold and his equal to hold. A dignified mind burst into a love song because here he could love… as he has seen love in the triune God. They were one in heart, mind and soul. Wow what a love song from a creative mind.
As embodiments of God’s Image, have we closed our minds to creativity. A simple glance to all the things around us reveals this creative and beautiful mind. But as creative as we can be, we can also choose to rather ‘cut paste and plagiarise’, while the world waits for new thinking. To limit our minds is to undermine God’s imprint in us; here we tend to meet with the dynamics of wrong decisions that needs redeeming grace.
2. Redeemed Mind
The refusal to obey God was an exercise of our volition; a way of thinking or entire understanding that stands in opposition to God. A “mind” that refuses to acknowledge God hostile to God. Yet God in His grace invites us ‘know’ that He wouldn’t abandon the work of His hands. Man created in His image is endowed with the desire to return for He has set eternity in our hearts…a questful mind and heart. The Word became flesh and we beheld His Glory..and to those who believed He gave them the mind of Christ ( 1 Cor. 2:16). Here the redeemed mind is described in terms of a correct understanding of the things and plans of God. It is a worldview in synchronization with God’s will.
A redeemed mind is a continuous exercise, wherein we offer ourselves to the Creator than the created. A sensible decision that will no longer conform us to the patterns of this world mind-set, rather a renewed mind that is able to transform us; to be made new in the attitude of the mind (Rom 12:2 & Eph 4:23). Transformation is a conscious choice of the mind; the mind of Christ.
A redeemed mind takes us back to the created order where relationships matter. We would now love the Lord with all our mind, we would be mindful of our neighbour as ourselves. Sadly our love for God has become idolatrous. Vinoth Ramachandra states that “idolatry involves a contractual approach to the deity: in return for the appropriate sacrifices, the gods are expected to give health, prosperity, military victory, and protection from evil forces. Worship is thus about finding the right technique to obtain the end desired. The final stage in idol formation involves a role- reversal: the idol now controls the life of its worshipers, re- shaping them in its own image “Also when our mind derogates and discriminates based class, caste, gender colour. . .it cannot be the mind of Christ! We are indeed deceiving ourselves!
As Paul prayed, a redeemed mind is one where ‘the word of Christ (will) dwell. . .richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing’(Col 3:16) and where the scripture will lead us unto wisdom (2Tim 3:15). Wouldn’t such a mind be considerate and compassionate?
3. Humble Mind
The church at Philippi, as dear as she would be to us, perhaps lacked what Paul would say-the mind of Christ ! Hence his passionate plea that they be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (Phil. 2:2).
The mind is more revealed in the context of a community where our grandest good intentions can be thwarted by selfish ambitions or vain conceit. To have the same mind that was in Christ – the right mind- comes with an attitude of humility, love, tenderness and compassion. This is an impossible task, unless we take a resolute decision to follow the way of Christ. “The way to glory for Jesus was by the cross. The way to glory for us is by following Jesus in a similar humility. . .We live in the shadow of the cross of Christ, shouldering our own cross, bearing the burden of one another, standing counter to the world and suffering for it”
The greatest impediment for a humble mind is one’s own self. Our foundational beliefs, our social consciousness, our simple living, paradoxically our own sense of humility can make us proud and elitist in our thinking. We then become blind to the world around us. Paul, Timothy and Epaphroditus (Phil 2) were different because of their willingness to offer themselves, take genuine interest in others welfare or risk their life in the work of Christ (Phil 2: 17, 20 & 30). A right mind would become like minded, becoming a servant as Christ, willing to serve!
4. Engaging Mind
“For by Him all things were created and it pleased God to place all things under his feet (Col. 1:16 & Eph. 1:22). But the evangelical mind had failed to comprehend that ‘all’ things belong to Christ. How else would we be able to justify our failure to engage His world. Perhaps a secular-sacred divide had kept us from engaging Gods world with God’s Word. A review of Mark Noll’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, highlights this “failure of evangelicals to contribute to the academic world of high culture, including: economics and political science, literary criticism and imaginary writing, historical inquiry and philosophical studies, linguistics and the history of science, social theory and the arts.” Consequently we would also fail to contribute in the proficiency of the high work culture.
Noll goes deeper to share that this failure is because we have ‘failed to think like a Christian about the nature and workings of the physical world, the character of human social structures like government and the economy, the meaning of the past. the nature of artistic creation and the circumstances attending our perception of the worlds outside ourselves. Such an understanding might imply that to have the mind of Christ is to be as clever or as academic as Christ was.’ But Christ sets us the model of engagement. He was in tune with the needs of the poor and vulnerable as much as exposing the hypocrisy of the powerful and influential. His teachings were very much in sync with the world around. He engaged with the government of his day as much as he engaged with the exploited. On the road to Emmaus, His engagement with the two disciples was to join in the conversation that was already there; through which He revealed Himself to them.
University engagement calls not to impose rather to connect with the conversations already there. John Mulholland shares this with clarity when he says that “Christian scholars need to find points of connection between their faith and their field. This approach does not involve the imposition of a Christian “worldview” upon the field, or the construction of a Christian version of the field, efforts that are needlessly adversarial and tedious. Instead, with the humble belief that all fields of inquiry belong to God, Christians should master the methodology of their field and participate in the critical process that uncovers and refines knowledge, fearlessly drawing upon God’s wisdom and the knowledge of the Christian tradition, revealed both in scripture and in one’s faith experience, to construct arguments that meet the highest standards of scholarship and persuasion.” To engage in university implies that we are fully part of the life of the university. The same needs to be said of our work place where our call to shine like stars is make an impact in the work we have been called to; to take it to a better level of excellence where in our work will connect and converse the God we profess.
A creative and engaging mind is the mark of a redeemed and humble mind. A mind that honours God and loves the world belongs to Him; for we have the mind of Christ!
Sathish Joseph Simon
The author is a staff with UESI based in Delhi. Married to Mini and blessed by two daughters Stuthi & Diya.