“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12: 2)
This scripture, from the Apostle Paul, is one that has long engaged me for much reflection and study throughout my life. And from Pauls’ letter to the church in Philippi, (Philippians 2: 5), “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” This is a theme that appears in Paul’s writings often. It is an idea that was very important to him and one that he felt foundational for first century followers of the Christ and church to understand and to live. To the Roman church in his letter he wrote that we are to have relationship and spiritual companionship with Jesus Christ and in doing so we are “to allow God to transform us inwardly by the complete renewing of our minds.” In his letter to the church in Corinth he wrote that, “we are to have the same mind of Christ.” To the church at Philippi, “put on the mind which was in Christ Jesus.” To the Apostle Paul one cannot even begin to understand Jesus until we have a Christ Consciousness of service as did Jesus himself.
So, what is this Christ Consciousness that Paul is asking us to have? If you were to ask that question of Paul he would tell you that Jesus was speaking of a particular level of human consciousness when he told us these comforting words, “the Kingdom of heaven is within.” There it is. The kingdom of heaven is within. We need look no further than within our very selves, each and every one of us, to find that for which we have so long been searching. Within. Right where we are at this and every moment. Not far off – over there – or over there – or out there – but within. Right here.
Being transformed by the renewing of our minds is our remembering that which is within. Being transformed by the renewing of our minds and remembering to seek the mind of Christ in all that we do, think and say changes our game plan for what is about to happen in our lives and the lives of those around us.
The mind of Jesus. Think on that for a moment. What mind did Jesus demonstrate for us as he traveled about in his life and ministry?
It was the mind of Jesus that never saw the people he encountered along his journeys as “the other.” It was this mind that never labeled these people as worthy or unworthy of his attention. Jesus certainly understood the teachings of his elders, certainly the Pharisees, that this or that group is untouchable, not part of us and separate and out of favor with God’s plan. Each time I read the stories that include the Pharisees I am amazed, and yet amazed yet again, to see how narrow-minded and opinionated they were. They witnessed the healings of Jesus time and time again. Each time they saw Jesus heal someone they too had an opportunity to be healed of their bigotry and to be transformed into new life, but they just couldn’t see what was before them. The mind of Jesus reached out to the hurting, the sick, the lame, the blind, people all around him. In the mind of Jesus he didn’t ever see people as “the unworthy.” He saw them as human beings, creations of a loving God, he saw them as souls that were longing to experience new life and new possibility for their lives. The mind of Jesus never saw defeat and pain when the truth of God’s presence was right there. He saw that there was victory and abundant blessings available for all. To have the mind of Christ is to have what we in the 21st century call NON-DUEL THINKING. Not a “this or that,” not a feeling of being “separate,” not a “you vs. me,” and certainly not a need to label everything putting certain things down so one can feel superior. But he understood the unity of humanity as all living in the Kingdom of Heaven right here, right where we are now and always. Each of us together – united as one.
In Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God” meant being in God’s very holy presence. Each person he encountered he saw as citizens of this kingdom. Each person he saw – each thought that he had – was a thought of blessing and peace and possibility for all.
In our more modern time I look at the life and ministry of Mother Teresa and see one who not only had the mind of Christ but was transformed over and over again as her work transformed the lives of all those with whom she touched. No “this or that” thinking in her life. She saw all as precious children. Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, everyone.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. A renewing that shifts your thinking from seeing with blinders – and through a veil – and to make a decision to see and to serve as Christ saw and served.
Can you imagine if this was how everyone saw life? Wow. If we all saw our world through a mind of Non-Duel thinking and belief? No longer would there be bigotry, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-semitism, misogyny, hatred, lies and the biggest hurdle to our lives – FEAR.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
But the Apostle also charged us do something else. He wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world.” A tall order isn’t it? Easy – not so much. Possible – yes. Paul cautions us – that as we look around seeing lies and distrust and people who do business with questionable ethics, with greed as ones motivation and goal, who speak falsely and hurtfully about others, as we see them puff themselves up to feel superior – as we look around and witness that – that we not fall into that way of living. Do not see that as so present that we come to accept that as the new norm. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Seeing what is around you -choose another path. Make another decision. Set your intention to be one of LOVE and dwelling in the perfect presence of Spirit.
Where do you want to be? What do you want to experience? What is your destination of choice?
Fear is perhaps one, if not the, most terrifying force that our “world” would like for us to dwell in. Fear will stop us in our forward movement of life each and every time. Fear will entangle us in the worlds orbit so fast we won’t even know we are orbiting in it until something catastrophic happens to us. Fear will change our perceptions of life, focus our vision to latching onto negativity and it will devastate us. But, do not conform to the world. To fear. To the system that seeks to suck you in.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Seek love. Remember to pray. Meditate. To talk with God/Spirit. Remember the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, right where you are, so God is right with you. Within. Waiting, longing for your presence at every moment. This is true in whatever faith you practice. Spirit is with you. Are you with It?
We have to live in this world, but we can change this world. In our present day world, in the midst of our lives, filled with the everyday ups and downs of modern life, surrounded by a mindset – ever so prominent – that can foster and nurture a defeatist attitude and tear us apart, the apostle tells us to not dwell in that negativity, but to see our world and our place in this world as Jesus would beckon us to see and experience. The world will be forever with us, but, yes, we can change this world.
I think the words of the bumper sticker are very true. “Change your thinking – change your life.”
Paul writes of a freedom of spirit that awaits us whenever we make the decision to turn to it, recognize it, recalculate, reboot and accept it as our way of life. He tells us that Spirit is near. As close as our very next thought.
Rev. Jefferson Beeker
We live our lives one thought at a time. Let each of those thoughts really count for something wonderful.
Be prepared to change your thinking and change your life.
Follow me on Twitter @jeffersonbeeker for daily affirmations of uplifting and positive faith.