Everyone thinks. Naturally.
Or at least, everyone thinks they think. Effortlessly.
If that’s so for us, then what has truly happened is the reverse: we didn’t even think. Our minds thought for us, with no exertion on our part. It’s the fallback position – the default mechanism kicking in. We’re stuck in the mud.
So, why do we always think that way?
Blame it on our personality. That’s the way I was born. I am exact and scrupulous, viewing everything with a touch of skepticism. Or the opposite: I am easy-going, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt (if any doubt at all). So, that’s why, generally, I am pessimistic, or optimistic, or whatever.
There we go again. We think this way because we have moulded our minds to that inclination. Possibly, there’s the sheer weight of accumulation taking place. Habitual thought. Layer upon layer. Until we are overwhelmed. We can’t think in any other way. For example, people who are generous have thought through and embraced that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Superficially, people prefer to receive than give. A friend of mine re-framed this by asking – in an accident, would you prefer to give or receive? The twist in the argument came from, yes, a training of the mind.
In our natural minds, we interpret from limitations, biases and sometimes, from an unregenerate viewpoint.
Keith Mathison helps us “un-train” and “re-train” our mode of thinking with this short tutorial:
“There must be new life, eternal life. ‘You must be born again.’ Jesus’ words befuddled Nicodemus. He said to Jesus, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’ (Jn 3:4). Here Nicodemus gives us a textbook example of missing the point.
Nicodemus is not alone. There are a large number of professing Christians who miss the point. To hear some tell it, you would think Jesus merely said, ‘You must be well again.’ According to many, we are not spiritually dead but are simply sick. We are on our death-beds, and Jesus offers us the cure. All we have to do is reach out and take it. Or we are drowning and Jesus offers us a life buoy, and all we have to do is grab it to save our lives. The picture painted by Jesus and the apostles, however, is much more bleak. In our natural Adamic state, we are not on our sick beds. We are in the grave. We are not flailing about on the surface of the sea. We are lifeless at the bottom of the ocean. We are dead.
This is the point that Nicodemus and we must understand. When Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again, He is indicating that this is not something Nicodemus can do himself. Just as we had no control over our physical birth, we do not control our spiritual birth. It is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Those who say that we are only spiritually wounded will say that we can be regenerated, born again, by placing our faith in Christ. This, however, puts everything precisely backwards. We do not believe in order to be regenerated; we must be regenerated in order that we might believe. Regeneration precedes faith.”
Thanks for the heavy lifting, Keith.
The new birth brought with it a new mind. A radically different way of thinking, behavior, values, lifestyle. How?
We were imbued with a wonderful “out-of-this-world” headstart – quoting Got Questions, “… as Paul asserted concerning all believers, ‘We have the mind of Christ’ (in 1 Cor 2:16, he quotes Isa 40:13). Having the mind of Christ means sharing the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ, and it is something that all believers possess. Having the mind of Christ means we understand God’s plan in the world – to bring glory to Himself, restore creation to its original splendor, and provide salvation for sinners. It means we identify with Christ’s purpose ‘to seek and to save what was lost’ (Lk 19:10). It means we share Jesus’ perspective of humility and obedience (Phil 2:5-8), compassion (Mt 9:36), and prayerful dependence on God (Lk 5:16).”
Heavy lifting again, but made light by the illumination from above.
Dr Andrew Goh is the editor of Impact magazine.
Vol. 43 no.6 of IMPACT Magazine
TRUTH IN A CULTURE OF DOUBT... Engaging sceptical challenges to the Bible
REASONS TO BELIEVE... An astrophysicist's perspective
WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW CAN KILL YOU... Why faith must be grounded in knowledge
BUILDING ON TRUSTWORTHINESS... Panel interview
LEARNING TO TAKE A SHORTCUT IN LIFE... Building memories in a fun way
TRIBUTE TO BOBBY SNG... Reflections on a life well-lived
TRIBUTE TO JIM CHEW... A model on spiritual reproduction