Summary: We need a new way of thinking. We need a new mind. We need to put away the pattern of this world and be renewed in our thinking to see life how God sees it.
GROWING A BEAUTIFUL MIND
Do these words sound familiar to you? “Do not conform any longer 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” (Rom 12:2).
You have heard these words before but, no doubt, have wondered how your mind could be renewed. Our thinking has been influenced by the pattern of this world. We grow up understanding, or what we think is an understanding, of how our world works. That influences how we behave and what we choose to do.
Each generation seems to have its own way of looking at the world. Baby boomers, those born after World War 2, are a generation who optimistically push forward and reach for the American dream of a home with a two-car garage. Generation Xers (my generation), in contrast, are cynical and cautious. The pattern of our generations dictates how we view the world around us.
Regardless of the generation that describes your age it is said by experts that we suffer more from mental illness today than ever before. The great dream wasn’t as fulfilling as you thought; you are cynical, skeptical, disillusioned and tainted by a worldview that has no answers for the local and global crises we are facing today.
We need a new way of thinking. We need a new mind. We need to put away the pattern of this world and be renewed in our thinking to see life how God sees it.
The problem is that our expectation of the solution is that we can just add water, stir and instantly we have a renewed mind. That is our current mindset. Jesus, through the words of Paul, calls us to discipleship. That is, he calls us to come and follow him and learn from him and put these things into practice. It is not instantaneous, it is a process.
If you would like to renew your mind this morning, join me in Philippians 4:4-9.
1. Find your Joy in Jesus
In our series “Living the life of Joy” we have reached the pinnacle of Paul’s ode to joy. He has used the term “joy” or “rejoice” several times before, but now he shouts out the essence of all that he has said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4).
Let me remind you once again that joy is not happiness. It is much deeper than happiness and more enduring. Happiness depends on what is happening around you; joy is constant and sure. You may not be happy today but you are saved by the blood of Christ and this is reason to rejoice. Joy is always possible which is why Paul says we should rejoice “always.” To rejoice is an action, not a feeling, and we choose how we are going to react to our situations.
With that in mind remember that Paul was sitting in a Roman prison, his back sore and tender, his wrists chafing from the chains, perhaps a little bloody, and a soldier connected to the other end of that chain. And he’s telling the Philippians to rejoice. He himself was rejoicing in his circumstances, as we have seen throughout this letter.
Doesn’t this sound foreign? Our brains aren’t wired that way. How can anyone think like this? How do you get to a place of joy like this?
About ten years ago CNN’s Larry King interviewed Billy Graham. For some time now Graham has had several health issues including his struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. When Larry King asked him how he felt about having Parkinson’s Disease, Dr. Graham replied, “I feel great about it. It’s been a wonderful experience. I believe the Lord has many lessons to teach me through this disease.”
Dr. Graham was rejoicing in the Lord. I wondered when I read this, how could a person be able to do this. The answer came to me as twofold. First, it is supernatural. That’s the only way I could grasp this kind of joy. It had to be from God. And secondly, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, Dr. Graham must have made it a habit to daily rejoice in the Lord. Even a disease like that which would bring anyone’s spirits down was a cause for Billy Graham to praise God. The Lord gives the gift of joy but we have to practice it.
This so totally goes against our natural mindset. When we face tragedy we are most likely to blame God and ask “why?” but joy does the opposite. If we find ourselves unable to rejoice in all circumstances that is one sign that we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.