Summary: These are the third and fourth steps along the PATH of discipleship.
The PATH of Discipleship
October 3, 2010
Mark 12:28-34 (NIV)
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ’Love your neighbor as yourself. ’There is no commandment greater than these."
32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Last week, we started thinking together about the PATH of Christian discipleship, and, if you were here, you may recall that we were using the word PATH as an acrostic. I suggested that there are at least four steps in the journey of living for Christ, four practices that we need to incorporate into our lives as we follow Jesus.
Each of these steps, I suggested, can be discovered in what we call the Great Commandment, where Jesus says that we are to ‘love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind and with all [our] strength.’
The first step, or practice, was to pursue our relationship with God,, and I associated that with loving God with all our soul. The second step was to answer the call to true vocation, and I associated that with loving God with all our strength. These two steps make up the ‘P’ and the ‘A’ in PATH. Now we’re ready for the ‘T’ and the ‘H.’
BE TRANSFORMED IN YOUR THINKING
The ‘T’ is for being ‘transformed’ and, specifically, it refers to being transformed in your thinking. When I was a teenager, my pastor gave me a little pocket New Testament, bound in red leather. And inside, on the flyleaf, he had written a note. And with the note was a Scripture citation: Romans 12:1-2. I couldn’t wait to turn to that passage and read what it said. If you know those verses, you will recognize the words: ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God’ (KJV).
These words are programmatic for the Christian life. They set the agenda. They represent a plan for living coram deo, before the face of God. (See Before the Face of God [4 Volumes] by R. C. Sproul.) ‘Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’
The transformed life does not come by accident. Andy Stanley says in one of his books, ‘Direction – not intention – determines your destination (The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, p. 14). Your intention, and mine, may be to follow Jesus, but if we are not walking the path he is walking, if we’re not going in his direction, we’re not going to get where he is going. So, the third step on Jesus’ PATH is to think the way Jesus thinks. To return to the Great Commandment, we are to ‘love…God…with all [our] mind.’ We are to think – that is, we are to process reality – in a certain way. We are to develop a biblical worldview. In other words, we are to view the world and everything in it the way the Bible defines it.
To do this is to love God with our mind, and to love God with our mind is, often, to think in opposition to the established order of things. Our thinking will not be ‘conformed to this world,’ but, rather, we will be ‘transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.’
The transformed mind, then, is counter-cultural, because we don’t think along the same patterns laid down for us by the dominant culture around us. Instead, we look at the world through the lens of Scripture. We maintain a biblical worldview.