Wednesday, October 09, 2013

"Out Of Your Mind" Learning

It can happen very quickly, the swing from “what’s on your mind?” to “are you out of your mind?”. The look on one’s face is easy to read: the contemplation is deep, but the expression of the thought--often-times, our thoughts are received in unexpected ways.

The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers that, “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The Philippian Christians were encouraged to demonstrate Christ-mindedness toward one another (Phil. 2:1-2, 5). When one who is hard after God shifts from living “under the sun” to learning “under heaven” and applying heavenly wisdom, the world does not know how to receive the lessons. Like Festus to Paul’s ears, “you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind!” (Acts 26:24)

The mind of Christ is not the mind of the world. Learning the mind of Christ is to gain the viewpoint, understanding, wisdom, thoughts, feelings, purposes, the desires of God’s anointed Messiah.

Paul had the mind of Christ, but he did not start off with the mind of Christ. He was a Jewish Roman citizen raised in Greek-speaking Tarsus and as a Benjamite, was named after Israel’s first king (Saul) who, incidentally, who ended badly. Growing up was not easy and Saul/Paul had make up his mind how he would succeed in life considering this crazy, mixed-up background. He could get run over by the stigma of his name and cultural tension, or he could (and did) learn to use his position to his advantage. He studied at the feet of Jewish masters, familiarized himself with Greek thought and followed the protocols of Roman citizenship. Then Jesus entered the picture and showed him he where he was lacking.

Paul’s lifelong learning was not thrown out the window, abandoned. He did not commit intellectual suicide because of faith. Paul was able to tie up the loose ends that remained in his learning. He knew much but his application was way off at first. The living Christ met Paul personally and brought an objective viewpoint all his tradition, all his learning, all his social contribution. Then something fascinating happened: he spent the next 14 years learning the mind of Christ.

Learning is life-long and the grasping the mind of Christ is not the assimilation of ideas, but takes place in the context of relationship. We have only begun to learn when we master literature, science, language, math, music, etc. There remains wisdom that comes only from God--orientation of a working mind.

Going “out of our mind” is exactly what we should do in order to be the best student. Our learning “under heaven” should inform our learning “under the sun” through our relationship with Christ.

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