“What were you thinking?”
The question is short and tight. You won’t find four words that better convey disbelief and utter exasperation. I’ve asked the question. I’ve asked it of my kids. I’ve asked it of myself. My wife has directed the question my way on occasion.
The question is somewhat misleading because it really has little to do with thought. It tends to come up in connection with some kind of action or behavior. Typically, the behavior is totally incomprehensible and so someone else is trying to make sense of what was done or said. The attempt to discern or understand the otherwise senseless act is thus framed with this question: “What were you thinking?”
Among other things that the question so powerfully conveys is the assumed link between thought and action. Thinking and speaking and doing are inseparable.
Paul told the Christians in Corinth, “We have the mind of Christ.”
Now that’s interesting. Thanks to the written text of scripture I know plenty about what Jesus did. Those same scriptures have preserved much of what Jesus said. But what was he thinking? What was on his mind when he did and said those things?
“We have the mind of Christ.”
I so want to believe that. But when I look at what Christians do and say – more to the point, when I look at what I do and say – I so have my doubts.
The mind of Christ didn’t rationalize temptation. His thoughts were steely and focused and filled with the words of God.
The mind of Christ didn’t hold a grudge. When a Samaritan village rejected him as he journeyed to Jerusalem he rebuked the indignant James and John who wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the place.
The mind of Christ could be inundated with the noise of an adoring crowd and not get swept up in it. In the clamor he heard the cries of a blind man, a man ignored by the crowd.
The mind of Christ could wrestle with God and then finally submit entirely and without reservation to whatever God willed to do. .
“We have the mind of Christ.” But we don’t come by it naturally, the way some people are effortlessly good at math. And we don’t come by it by effort. The mind of Christ comes to us by the work of the Spirit.
By the work of the Spirit – grace at work in your life – you can think differently today about yourself and your circumstances. With the mind of Christ you know what’s true about you. You are not a failure. You are not a rock star. You need not live with shame and you have no cause for arrogance or pride.
With the mind of Christ you can see your life as Jesus sees it: you need not be afraid and anxious. You need not carry the burdens of regret and guilt. You can genuinely care about your co-workers rather than fear them or compete with them. You can risk being a servant and not fear getting used.
We have the mind of Christ. His mind is a gift that comes by the Spirit working in us. As followers of Jesus we don’t simply do what Jesus did. We think like he thought and gradually his life takes shape in our own.
How are you thinking about yourself and your circumstances today?
Form your mind in me today, Lord Jesus. Help me to see others as you see them, to think your thoughts about them. Help me to see myself and my life with your mind. By the work of your Spirit in me, take away the lies that pose as truth. Let my thoughts and actions and words honor you throughout this day, I pray. Amen.