November 5, 2014

Letting Jesus inside my head

Science-fiction writers imagine a scenario that actual science has not yet done; transplanting a brain from one living creature into another. I’ve also wondered if my mind is totally in my brain or has my heart and such things as gut-feeling and hunches something to do with it?

A few days ago, in beginning this devotional series concerning the Christian mind, my first thoughts were on the marvel of what God says He has done for His people. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He says we “have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) He did this so we could understand the things of God and the spiritual realm. Today, the question goes the other way: He gives His mind to me, but am I willing to give my mind to Him?

This is the invitation: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)

Opinions differ on what it means to be weary and heavy-laden, but in those days, the burden of religious legalism imposed on people by the scribes and Pharisees may have been how the listeners interpreted Jesus’ words. They could not keep up to the continual addition of laws added to ‘protect the law.’ No person could possibly remember them all, never mind keep them.

Yet the rest Jesus promised went beyond law. He called it a “rest for your souls” implying an eternal rest or the rest of an assurance of having eternal life. Jesus certainly promised that, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The gospel says those who believe in Jesus are saved by grace through faith. Both are a gift from God, free for the taking, yet that freedom involves yielding ourselves to Him. If that sounds like bondage, just consider those other ‘masters’ that could control my thinking.

The first is the world and the ways of the world. Here I must insert an amazing quote by a now-dead person, not a Christian but with shimmering insight: “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship… is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough… Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you… Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is… they’re unconscious. They are default settings.” (David Foster Wallace)

This means that whatever in this world has the capacity to fill and control my mind also has the capacity to enslave me.

The second is the flesh, and it partners with the world. If I give my mind to the comforts of life, or to its thrills, soon they will not satisfy and I must have more. That also has the capacity to enslave me.

The third is the devil, the one whom Jesus called the liar and the father of lies, the destroyer. His bondage runs the gamut from convincing me I must always have my way to unmentionable abominations. If he becomes my master, I would soon be destroyed.

I am not free if my mind belongs to anything or anyone else but Jesus. Yet the yoke that He binds me in teamwork to Himself is “easy” and a “light burden.” I’ve written about this before; the word used for the heavy burden in the first part of His invitation refers to a large crate of goods, but the word for the light burden that He gives refers to the invoice!

Also, consider a heavy load of worry and anxiety that keeps me awake at night, unable to sleep, unable to enjoy food or friends, a load that gives me a headache and tense muscles and no freedom to focus on anything else but my anxiety. Many people live that way, that burdened.

Now think of a carefree spirit that truly trusts God to meet all my needs. I sleep deeply, laugh easily, enjoy all of life, and am totally relaxed and filled with energy and creativity. I know what it is like to live that way, that free.

Pardon the pun, but giving Jesus my mind and my brain seems a no-brainer.

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