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January 18th, 2009


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02:48 pm - Musings on "having the mind of Christ"
The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"
But we have the mind of Christ.

--1 Corinthians 2:15-16


I was reading the first couple chapters of 1 Corinthians this week, and this verse jumped out at me.

I love these chapters, because they talk about how "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength....God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." Paul is laying out for intelligent people a reminder that reason is not the ultimate certainty; that we cannot purely argue our way to God.

In the second chapter, he boldly says that when he preached to them it "[was] not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." In other words, salvation and the new creation in Christ is something created in us through reality rather than abstract thinking (though that has a place). It isn't something we can construct; it's a gift from God, who raises us up without regard for intellect, good works, or social status.

The rest of the second chapter is taken up with discussion about understanding what God has done, and how our minds are enabled by the Spirit of God to understand the things of God. (I imagine it like getting a software upgrade.) It ends with the verse I quoted above: "The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ."

Obviously, that doesn't mean that anyone who is a Christian, even mature in the faith, can always trust the workings of their own mind and heart. We are still tempted, still fighting self-will, pride, anger, what have you. But what I find astonishing is Paul's assertion that someone thinking by the Spirit of God--having the mind of Christ--is not subject to any other human judgment.

Christians too often live in a place of fear, of perpetual second-guessing their own judgment. That's not always bad, but it can become a barrier, a cell to lock us away from doing what Christ actually said because we're afraid we'll screw up or afraid that we can't be trusted. Afraid that what some people in the world say about human nature is unavoidably true; that we are forever tainted simply by being human.

Not so.

In Christ we are a new creation. Even as we struggle and learn and grow, we are being filled more and more with the Spirit, and changed into the image of God's own son, more and more reflecting his holiness and love and grace. We don't need to take on board every judgment brought against us by an outside source, whether it's society or a rules-based part of the church. We have been re-created, and our lives will begin to show that.

We have the mind of Christ. In humility ("agreeing with God") we need to accept that, and start to walk with more trust and more freedom the lives which God prepared for us before time began. We come to God saying, "I am nothing, I am afraid, I am poison," and he says to us, "No, beloved. You are mine, you are beautiful, you are so strong, you are my antidote in a world gone dark. Get up and go, and I will be with you."

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kizmet_42
Date:January 18th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)

Sorry, trying again

(Link)
One of the teachings in (Eastern) Orthodox Christianity is theosis - that we are united to Christ and grow in Him.

From Orthowiki.com, comes this quote regarding the theology of theosis:

The statement by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, "The Son of God became man, that we might become God", indicates the concept beautifully. II Peter 1:4 says that we have become " . . . partakers of divine nature." Athanasius amplifies the meaning of this verse when he says theosis is "becoming by grace what God is by nature" (De Incarnatione, I). What would otherwise seem absurd, that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy, has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis - it is not possible for any created being to become, ontologically, God or even another god.

Theosis Once I learned of theosis, so much of the New Testament made sense. I think what you're examining is the same thing at the basic level. Now, me -- I am the most judgmental person you will ever meet. I'll gladly use that verse to justify my sin (Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner!) and avoid repentance. That's most definitely not the mind of Christ.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:January 21st, 2009 07:28 am (UTC)

Re: Sorry, trying again

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Well, obviously one cannot take a verse of Scripture out of its context; that's why I talked about both chapters, there, which support (I think) my conclusions--which does indeed sound like the theological statement of theosis.

There is plenty in the New Testement about not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought, but rather thinking of ourselves with sober judgment. But so many times I have seen Christians (including myself, or I wouldn't be so interested in this) and the church at large take this too far: where such sober thinking becomes self-centered navel-gazing, where we become stuck at the cross instead of living in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. We were sinners (and we still sin); we are now the redeemed and brilliant children of God.

Good news indeed.
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:January 19th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*hugs this post*
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:January 21st, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
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I'm a little like Don, sometimes--I always want to know where the lines are, because otherwise I become irrationally afraid that I will somehow cross them without knowing it.

But that's not living in faith, at all. Humility is listening to what God says, and faith is acting on it. I want to live there.
[User Picture]
From:lizamanynames
Date:January 20th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
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We come to God saying, "I am nothing, I am afraid, I am poison," and he says to us, "No, beloved. You are mine, you are beautiful, you are so strong, you are my antidote in a world gone dark. Get up and go, and I will be with you."

That is beatiful. Thank you for this.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:January 21st, 2009 07:30 am (UTC)
(Link)
You're welcome! May He bless you.

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