When I see a magician change something like a handkerchief or a rabbit into something else I am entertained. But when I see God change a mind I am moved to worship. Especially if the mind is my own.
Because we can tune in to the 24 hour news channel that confirms all of our biases and surround ourselves on social media with people who already think the things we think, it is historically easy for us to get stuck in our thinking. Our minds have never been that elastic in the first place, but something about the age in which we live makes them even more brittle.
But repentance, a rearrangement of the mind, is an important part of the Christian life and Christians who want to faithfully follow God into the truth He reveals owe him a flexible mind.
1. Develop Challenging Friendships
We all know that friendship likes to follow affinity. Making a friend out of someone who sees the world differently, who has different values and enthusiasms, can feel like telling the water to flow upstream. But it's possible and it's worth it. The biggest obstacle to developing challenging friendships is our own laziness, and this is strange. I am a pastor who will work very hard and move mountains to build a church for the benefit of people I can't be bothered to develop friendships with. This should not be so.
2. Make a Habit of Acting on Repentance
In James 1:23 we are told that it is not enough to be hearers of the truth. If we hear the truth and acknowledge the truth but fail to act on the truth we will survive that encounter with the truth unchanged. If I am persuaded, for instance, that I should be giving a certain percentage of my income to God but drag my feet about acting on that conviction for a week that turns into a month and then into a year can I really say that my mind has been changed?
3. Turn Up Your Mental Thermostat
Our minds, like our bodies, get stiff from spending too much time on the couch. Warming our minds up to make them more receptive to repentance involves considering books or people that make arguments that are difficult to understand, that use unfamiliar vocabulary, and that require sustained attention.
4. Learn to View Repentance as a Triumph and not a Defeat
Because we don't tend to change our minds until we've lost every argument, the matter of repentance gets strongly associated with defeat. But in the search for truth my greatest adversary is my own mind, and not some debate opponent. My mind is not some pure arbiter of perceived truth. It is polluted with the corruption of my heart and the current of my will. When I can get my mind to align with a truth it resisted this has to be considered a victory, even if it's the sort of victory that gets accomplished by my loss.
5. Submit to the Mind of God, Even when Your Own Mind Won't Submit to You.
In the garden on the cusp of his crucifixion, Jesus poignantly asked that he be spared the suffering that was about to fall on him. "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Don't let success in repentance be the limiting factor in your obedience. Sometimes the mind only catches up with the truth when obedience has created the conditions for repentance.
God bless you as you follow Jesus into all truth.
Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church Blog