Have you ever changed your mind? How did that happen?
As is often the case, converging thoughts from separate sources have made me reflect on my own state of mind, what led me in the past to change my mind, how resistant I am to that kind of change.
It started with a friend who reported he was taking a break from social media, convinced that Facebook was comparable to a pulpit, i.e., that piece of furniture that stands six feet above contradiction. My friend wondered: Has anyone ever really changed their political or religious point of view because of something they saw posted on Facebook? We could say the same thing about cable news, where viewers gravitate to punditry that confirms what they already believe.
In my work focused on spiritual growth, I often ask about what has helped people change or grow. Most often I hear that such as an experience has to do with challenge, crisis, or suffering. Often, it has to do with a relational experience, sitting down with someone who has something to teach us, breaking out of the bubble.
The chaotic state of our world right now indicates that we could benefit from that kind of conversation. That same chaos also suggests that we can’t keep doing what we’re doing, that we need among other things, a new mindfulness, a change of mind.
But what does that change look like? Is it change for change’s sake? Change in what way? What’s our compass?
About the time my wise friend chimed in with his social media sabbatical, I came across readings for the first Sunday in October, which have been on my mind since, as they talk about a change of mind. One of the readings was about the children of Israel in the wilderness, GPS deprived, challenged but also formed by that experience. They came out a new people, with a new mindset. Their minds were changed.
That same Sunday we eavesdropped on Jesus’ conversation with religious opponents, folks unable to see the new and amazingly gracious thing that Jesus was bringing into the world. The gospel writer says it simply: The professional religious people of the day refused to change their minds. Which makes this professional religious person ask again: How is it that people change their minds? And change to what?
The third reading for the day helped. (It helped so much I included it below) St. Paul writes to the beloved Philippian church about their state of mind. He calls them to be of one mind. (Imagine!) And he invites them to discover a new and different path. He encourages them to have the mind of Christ. Change we can believe in.
What does that change look like? The mind of Christ has to do with an attitude of humility and service, a mindset oriented toward the other. Paul confirms that we can experience that state of mind as well. In another passage from his letters, St. Paul calls his readers not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12). Said another way, by the changing of their minds. Which comes from following Jesus, as simple and complicated as that may be.
It could be said that Jesus came into the world to change our minds. To make our minds repositories of love and compassion. To give us the power to change, when left to our own devices, we’re stuck.
Thank God he did.
From St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name
that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Discipleship Matters Conference 2017
Oct. 16-18, 2017
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