How many of us can remember the first time we heard of Christ? How about that special day when you were baptized? What a very special occasion! What excitement! What joy! What peace! Our lives were changed. We acted differently. We treated others differently. Why was that? Well, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
We were a new creation. What a blessed time! Now think back. What happened next. Some were treated badly because of their choice to follow Jesus. Others were welcomed home with celebrations. We were no longer of this world but we still had to live in this world. And life went on. We became busy.
For some of us it is so easy to be busy. Busy with living life in the physical world. Taking care of living from day to day. We start by making all the little decisions, like, what time to go to work, what clothes to wear, what to fix for supper, what TV show to watch, when to clean the living room, when to wash the car, and where to go on holiday. And pretty soon we are not inviting Jesus into any part of our lives. Then we end up like the farmer in the parable: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).
As we become so busy with our physical life we begin to blend in.
Blending is different from mixing. You can mix oil and water. But when you stop mixing you can definitely see that you still have two different individual parts. But when you combine butter, eggs and sugar for a cake you end up with a blend of the ingredients. Now you can no longer distinguish the butter from the sugar or the eggs. As we get busy, we blend in so well people can't distinguish the spiritual side of our lives any more. No one can see the Light of Jesus shining through our lives.
It is easy to blend back into the world. The Bible points this out in several places. In 1 Kings, Solomon began to blend in and become like the people around him. "For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David" (1 Kings 11:4).
Do you think Solomon picked a day and decided not to be fully devoted to God from that day on? It was more likely a gradual process.
Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians because they were turning back to what they were before. "But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?" (Galatians 4:8,9).
Do you think they stopped one day and said, "Let's go back to the way we were?" No they slowly drifted off course.
I fly airplanes and it is very easy to drift slowly off course. No sudden or abrupt turns, just a slow shift in heading and we end up at the wrong airport. To get to the right airport we must constantly be checking our maps and our instruments. If we get busy with all the little things around us and don't pay attention we end up going the wrong way.
So the question is how do we keep from getting too busy and blending into the world around us. Paul offers a suggestion to help us in Romans 12:2. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
Transformed by the renewing of your mind. What did Paul mean here? How do we renew our mind? By praying, and by reading and thinking about the words of God. In Philippians 4:4-9 he says: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:4-9).
Now how often should we attempt this renewing of our mind? "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what advantage is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?'" (Luke 9:23-25). "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:12,13). We see from these verses that we must follow Christ daily and must exhort one anther daily to renew our minds.
And with the renewing of our minds we can be taken back to that excitement of when we were first in Christ and be reminded of why we chose Christ and enjoy all the feelings that we had then.
So daily we should rejoice, be gentle, not anxious, we should offer up prayers of petition and thanksgiving. And daily we should think on things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Daily we should put into our lives what we have learned, received, heard and seen in Jesus.
This is a long list to remember. But if we will simply remember these three things about renewing our minds: praying, reading the Scriptures, and thinking about the words of God. Then we can refer back to Philippians 4:4-9 to jog our memory on how to renew our minds.
Published in The Old Paths Archive