We’ve been talking, lately, about how God takes broken things and restores them into something new. Today, I want to talk about the most broken thing of all – our minds. I’m sorry to tell you this – you have broken mind and it needs restoration. If you think I’m wrong, then you definitely have a broken mind! No matter what your politics, your philosophy, your opinion, your theology, your prejudices, your preferences, your education, your taste – you are wrong! – because your mind is definitely broken. You are definitely wrong.
Turn to your neighbor and say, “You’re wrong.” Turn to your other neighbor, and tell them, “You’re wrong, too.” But, be careful if it’s your spouse. They’re wrong too, of course. But, they may be tired of hearing that from you!
The bad news is that we’re all wrong – there’s no escaping it. The good news is that you’re not the only one.
Here’s the problem – All of us view the world through a limited, biased perspective. Let me ask you… Have you ever thought you were right, only to discover later that you were wrong? Have you ever changed your mind? Have you ever learned something you didn’t know? Do you have any biases, fears, prejudices, opinions, preferences? Do you feel anger or hatred toward anyone? Any self-esteem issues? Have you ever considered how all of that may give you a somewhat biased, lop-sided view of things? Have you ever considered that you might be wrong?
John Wesley once said, “When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.”
The only person who is never wrong, of course, is Jesus. The rest of us – well, not so much.
What if you are wrong?
Throughout the 2000-year history of the Church, Christians have been seriously wrong about lots of things, and have committed terrible atrocities in the name of Jesus.
- Christians believed that the world was flat and orbited by the sun. Devoted Christians, like Galileo and Copernicus, were branded as heretics for saying the earth is round and revolves around the sun.
- Christians believed that slavery was biblical.
- The Bible has been used to treat women, Jews, and people of color like second class humans, denying them basic rights.
- The Church justified the conquering of non-Christian lands, and the subjugation of native peoples.
- The Church justified the crusades and the inquisition.
- Countless wars have been waged in Jesus’ name.
- Churches have split, creating countless Christian denominations and sects – all claiming to be right.
David G. Benner writes, “We all tend to fashion a god that matches our falsity.”
If the Church can be so wrong so often, then you and I ought to be humble enough to admit that sometimes you and I can be wrong too – really, really wrong.
Jesus asked his apostles “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ.” He was right. Jesus then said that his life would end on a cross. Peter objected, and Jesus turned to him and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” Matthew 16:23. Peter didn’t say or do anything evil. He just didn’t want his friend to die. But, that was his agenda, not God’s. One moment Peter’s right – the next moment he’s dead wrong.
What an interesting phrase, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” In essence, if you’re not thinking like God, you’re wrong. More often than not, like Peter, we don’t think like God.
Ravi Zacharias says, “We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.”
The Problem with the Echo Chamber
Most of us want to think correctly. Most of us are sincere about what we believe. The problem is the “echo chamber.” The echo chamber begins in the home and culture we come from, where we’re taught certain values. Then, we tend to gravitate toward others who share those values. We socialize with them, go to church with them, and marry them. Maybe you watch TV shows that reinforce those values. Maybe you read authors that reinforce those values. Maybe you listen to radio shows that reinforce those values. Maybe you vote for candidates that espouse those values. Slowly, we become entirely surrounded by people who look like us, think like us, talk like us, vote like us – and we become more and more convinced that we’re right and everyone else is wrong. That’s the echo chamber.
Others have said that we are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. Those people influence what we do, what we talk about, what we watch on TV, how we spend our time, what we believe about the world, God, and even about ourselves.
The problem is that Truth is bigger than the Echo Chamber. Truth is bigger than the five people you spend the most time with. Though you may be surrounded by brilliant, godly people – they still aren’t Jesus. And, they’re wrong.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). What is the pattern of this world, and how do we conform to it?
I recently asked a group what it means to be “blessed.” Answers ranged from safety, to health, to family, to having enough AND enough to share with others. I then asked the group to read the Beatitudes. Jesus said,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” (Luke 6:20-26)
I suspect most of us would reverse those. Most of us would say being blessed is having enough money and food, being happy, and being well thought of – and those are just the basics! Jesus says the opposite! Jesus says we’re blessed when we’re poor, hungry, mourning, hated and rejected.
Unfortunately, we don’t have time this morning to talk about why Jesus would say such things. But, I think it serves as a great example of how contrary our thoughts are to Jesus’.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
From our daily choices, to how we spend money, to how we value people, to how we view ourselves, to the goals we pursue, to the people we vote for, most of us are far more influenced by the world around us, and our own limited perspectives, than we are by having the mind of Christ. This is a major problem.
If you and I truly had the mind of Christ…
- This church would be filled, beyond capacity, every Sunday, because we would make worship and keeping the Sabbath a priority.
- We would baptize and welcome new members, weekly, because we would be inviting all of our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and families – and even strangers.
- We would have too many volunteers, because everyone would know their Spiritual Gifts and feel called to use them.
- We would have more money than we could use, because everyone would tithe.
- We would put ALL of our hope in Jesus and his Church – not political parties, or bank accounts, or armies, or anything other than Jesus.
- We would be truly multicultural, multi-ethnic, and diverse in everything we do, because the body of Christ is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and diverse.
- We would be healing and transforming people, families, neighborhoods, cities.
- We would have teams leaving every week on mission trips.
- We would be planting new churches.
- We would love and welcome everyone, including the poor, the broken, the outcast, the rejected, the shunned, the forgotten, the least, and the lost.
- We wouldn’t be worried about personal preferences and petty differences, because all that would matter is fulfilling the Great Commission and loving out neighbors.
- We would be flexible and willing to change – like new wineskins for new wine. We wouldn’t care what time the service started, or how long it lasted. We wouldn’t care what kind of songs we sing or don’t sing. We wouldn’t care if the service was traditional, contemporary, or something else entirely. We would remember that it’s all about him, and not about us!
If we truly had the mind of Christ, nothing would matter to us but living for the Kingdom, seeing it advance, and honoring the Father in everything we do. Until that is true, and as long as we live for ANYTHING else, WE ARE WRONG. We need to have our minds restored.
Changing your mind…
So, how do we change our minds?
First, be humble enough to be open-minded, and to acknowledge that only Jesus is 100% right – the rest of us aren’t.
Second, realize that we are constantly under the influence. The old baptismal liturgies used to have a great question, “Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow, nor be led by them?” Did you hear those three influences; the devil, the world, and the sinful desires of our own flesh? The question is not whether or not they are influences – and evil ones at that. They definitely are. The question is whether we will follow or be led by them. Even Christians can be easily misled.
Third, we have to be very intentional in immersing ourselves in the Truth of Jesus Christ, and its entire width, breadth, depth, and height. For many Christians, their belief in Truth is just too narrow, excluding too much that is true. And, for some, it is too broad, embracing too much that is not true. But, we all need to be seekers of the Truth, and be open to the myriad ways that God wants to stretch our capacity to understand all that is good and true.
We need Jesus, who is truth. We need the Spirit, to lead us into all truth.
Paul writes, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)
Proverbs 5:3-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”
The only way we can think like Christ, and truly be kingdom-minded, is to have our minds restored. Only Jesus can do that for us.
Until then, you’re wrong.