– Pastor Brandon’s article from the March 2016 Newsletter
At our house, we have a little game. It started out with a simple question, and over the last several months, it has developed into something that almost brings us to tears. As we watch William’s face light up whenever we show him something new or do something fun, we naturally wonder what’s going on in his little head. So, we ask him “What do you think?” He quickly figured out that was a fun question to ask and turned the tables on us. One day he asked me, “Dad, what you fink? What you fink, Dad?” Drawing a blank, I replied “I think I love you.” He enjoyed that so much it has now become the standard response to the question. Randomly throughout the day, he’ll inquire, “What you fink?” and I say, “I think I love you.” Then a little later I’ll ask, “What do you think?” and he replies, “I wuv ou.” As parents, this little exchange melts our hearts.
It is so amazing to see this little guy grow in his capacity to love. Of course, we have our moments of meltdowns, tantrums, and the like, but we also have incredibly sweet moments when he shows kindness, compassion, and gratitude. Once again, I am impressed with the importance of setting an example for him. I want to teach him how to know God and how to live life well. It’s a serious task, and I think it begins by teaching him how to think about life.
In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul tells the church that they are to imitate God as his dearly loved children— that they should live as children of the light and avoid the deeds of darkness. This section of the letter begins with a discussion of their way of thinking. In the middle of chapter 4, he describes their former thought process. He says that their old way of thinking was useless. It led to darkness and separated them from the life of God. As a result, their hearts were hardened and they became callous. They had become so dead inside that they gave themselves over to all kinds of wrong things in a vain attempt just to feel something. The search for lasting fulfillment in temporary pleasure only brought a deeper sense of emptiness. It’s a downward spiral. Can you identify with aspects of this way of life?
Praise the Lord that the next paragraph gives us hope. He says:
“You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:20-24)
Life in Christ involves a radical departure from the old way of doing things. When we come to know the truth that is in Christ Jesus, our old way of thinking has to go. We are called to put away our old self, our former way of life. Those old desires may appear attractive, but they lead to emptiness and despair. Instead, we are to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ, to adopt his way of life. This requires a renewing of our spirit and mind. Our thought process and attitudes have to change. We must look into the deep places of our being. Wherever we find anger, bitterness, resentment, we must allow the Spirit of God to clean it out and replace it with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
This is the way of Christ, and this is what he wants to cultivate in us through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. God created us to be like him, to show forth his righteousness and holiness. We only find true fulfillment when we become what we were created to be, and it all begins with the transformation of our attitudes and the renewing of our minds. Will we follow the old pattern of thinking that leads to despair, or will we allow ourselves to be renewed by the love of our Father? What do you think?