It sounded like a good idea in my head!
“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.” Romans 12:1-2 JB Phillips
It was just a few days ago and I was putting the finishing touches on a Sunday morning “talk” (aka sermon). I was stuck…not on content but on the introduction. I was spending an inordinate amount of time on how to kick it off. As you know, introductions IN ANY public presentation is one of the keys to a good speech. What happens in the first three minutes, in many respects, either sinks or keeps the ship afloat. So, as I was thinking about the introduction I had this great idea to check out a comic website of which I was familiar in order to discover some creative ideas on how to get people to “smile” in the first few minutes. There enters my idea…I went to the site, did some searching on some of the categories they had and I saw this one that I thought would work. Immediately, I thought to myself, “hey, this got me laughing hysterically in my head, it’s going to work great this weekend.” All week I had anticipated that, what I found funny, would go over the same way when I spoke it out loud to the people gathered in our worship community. You can probably see what’s coming…the day came and you know what happened? Crickets! Yep, maybe a chuckle or two (that I couldn’t hear) but nothing close to what I expected.
That got me thinking (again, I know that’s dangerous) about ALL the things we entertain in our heads about our lives. There isn’t a day that goes by where we focus on something that ends up consuming our attention. Sometimes it consumes small amounts of time and energy…sometimes TONS of time and energy. Our minds are tricky things. We had “two sides” to our brains – one that is dedicated to order and one that is dedicated to creativity. For many of us, once we start focusing on something (the order side that chooses, in most instances, what to focus on) our creative side “takes over” and expands what could be innocent into something potentially diabolical. Permit me to illustrate:
Much of the time, the things that we purchase (whether it be a car, computer, video game, book or shoes, it’s all the same) begin to be actually be purchased in our minds before the fact. We see or hear an ad, talk to a friend or casually walk by something that catches our attention. Soon, what is a microsecond of a look becomes something on which we focus…then the mental fun begins. Focus becomes obsession, obsession becomes a vision of what life would be like IF we mad that purchase, and vision creates action. That’s why Jesus said that the “lamp to the soul” is the eyes:
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness.” Luke 11:34
Jesus knew what we all choose to ignore or deny – that our focus, our obsessions, all the “ideas that sound good in the mind” can lead us down paths of destruction. Now, destruction might be a strong word but follow me – our choices begin with mental flirtation and can lead us anywhere. Yes, they all are not necessarily negative…but they can lead us in all sorts of directions that are far, far away from the Lord’s will in our lives. It’s either “light or darkness” according to Jesus. Most of us know what darkness we flirt with in our minds. Most of the people I’ve known, including myself, who “fell” into one action or another that harms the heart of our God because of something that began in the mind. Maybe it was a rationalization of some behavior or some obsession that turned into an action that hurt another person…maybe it was something initially irrational that was taken over by emotion and turned ugly. Whatever the case, our minds are fruitful places…places of potential good and bad.
Paul says that our minds can be renewed! In fact, the bible says we should guard our minds. Don’t let your mind be “squeezed” into submission to choices and aspects of focus that might sound good in your head but will only net hurt and pain. Seek the Lord for a renewal of your mind. When something comes across your head, ask yourself, “is this something light or dark?” Is this thought going to illumine my heart and life with a taste of heaven or will it lead to pain or hurt? You see how this works! May the Lord renew our minds this day!