Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christians looking like Christians - Some Ideas Neatly Organized

To sum up this thread so far:

1. The Bible makes it clear that Christians should have certain unique and identifiable characteristics.

2. Many Christians (including me) do not always manifest those characteristics.

3. Every Christian has the choice of two ways to live - "in the flesh" or "in the spirit".

4. When we don't look like Christians it's because we either chose to live in the flesh, or we chose nothing at all and got the flesh by default.

5. Every Christian has the authority and power to live continually in the spirit.

6. The only way to do that is by consciously and intentionally setting our minds on spiritual things, because. . .

7. What we thing about is what we will become.

I want to take one last swing at this topic today by explaining what we need to know to keep our minds in a spiritual state.

What we need to know

The things that affect our minds, thoughts, and attitudes can be divided into two groups:

Type 1 - Things that go into our minds
Type 2 - Things that come out of our minds

These two categories can then be further subdivided into these nice bite-sized portions.

Type 1 - Things that go in: Interaction & Entertainment
  • Things we see/watch (reading material, TV/movies, internet)
  • Things we hear/listen to (music, conversations)

I understand that everyone's different, and that what is spiritually deadly for me may not bother you in the least. So, for Type 1 items I'll just say that, 1) anyone who wants to live in the spirit will be wise to choose spiritually meaningful entertainment over purely worldly entertainment, and 2) even small amounts can yield large results (either positive or negative).

Type 2 - Things that come out: Internal moving Outward
  • Things we think about (daydreams, internal monologues)
  • Things we manifest (words, actions, reactions)

I am completely convinced that the things we think/daydream about become the things we manifest outwardly. Our thoughts are, in a very real sense, a rehearsal for how we will later behave. If I daydream about getting all the glory and accolades I deserve (ha!), a normal day no matter how pleasant, really crunches my biscuit. If I spend time explaining to myself (huh??) the reason I'm angry at someone, I will be angry at everyone for the next few hours. In my life it never fails. You may be different. But I doubt it.

Now, I do not want to give the impression that anyone could possibly focus entirely on spiritual things all of the time. We live in a material world, and we have serious responsibilities in it. For example, I would not want to be on the same road with someone who gave no thought of the physical act of driving, no matter how much he loved God! But I often find that, while my main thoughts are focused on whatever's in front of me, my secondary thoughts (like background music in my brain) remain on spiritual things. That's a nice feeling, and incredibly empowering.

Three final thoughts

1. If we can become purposeful and responsible masters of both types of influence, we will make great progress in our spiritual lives. It really is just as simple as consciously avoiding the bad (because you know what it is) and determinedly pursuing the good.

2. The real test of how you're doing in this task is what you think about when you're free to think about whatever you want. That is, where does your mind go when it isn't constrained (by work) or distracted (by TV)? You'll know you're winning the battle when you find it naturally returning to its "true north".

3. It all comes down to this: To have a spiritual mind you have to live in a spiritual world. And that is almost impossible to do if all you see, hear, taste, touch, smell and think about is material. To make this work you must get - and stay - aware of the spiritual reality all around you.