Paul admonishes the church in Rome with a simple statement. He says, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (12:2). There is a phrase in there, renewing of your mind, that has always struck me. What does it mean to renew the mind?
In a real sense, we can think our way into believing just about anything about ourselves, our world and others. In Buddhism, they call it the ‘monkey mind’. What this speaks to is the reality of a mind that is “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable.” It is a working mind, but a mind that leads us away from life and wholeness.
Paul, I have come to see, is speaking to our need to be mindful of what we are feeding our mind! In the midst of Lent, I’ve heard many comment about giving up social media and how freeing it has been and how their mind isn’t trapped in the drama of the latest outrage. Unlike in Paul’s day, we have a basis of understanding the mind through neuroscience. We can see how we crave things that give pleasure and how our brain fires in the midst of pain.
Yet, with all the science of the modern era, I would dare say that we are not yet closer to fully living into this renewed mind. Why? Simply, it takes a willingness to ask questions, dive deeper, address our presumptions, and courage to change! Paul is saying that through the renewal of your mind, your perspective will change. We will be able to better grasp God’s will (not a finite plan but a way of being in the world!). We will be able to move from a mind that is tricking us to a mind that is empowering us.
Today, spend some time on this question—How can humanity have such vastly different views of the same idea (God, government, meaning, etc.)?