Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Mind of God - What’s Not There II

The Mind of God has been one of my pet topics for decades. I am going to be brave and explore it a bit more, here in public. I’ve been collecting ideas and thoughts in a notebook. We’ll see where this goes. To find all of the posts on this topic, look for Mind of God in the Topic Cloud and click on it.

people standing outside church
Does God care what we wear to church?

One of my favorite authors of recent years is Henri Nouwen. His writings have succeeded in making me think about things in new ways. Since the “mind of God” is one of my pet topics, imagine my surprise to read this in his book Reaching Out:

"We should all have the mind of Jesus Christ, but we do not all have to have the mind of a schoolteacher, a carpenter, a bank director, a congressman, or whatever socio-economic or political group... "

I think that the point here is that various conventions and techniques are not part of the matrix of absolutes that make God the supreme authority. I grew up with the firm teaching that one wore stiff, uncomfortable clothes to church and that this would make God happy. I’ve been in churches where those who did not dress "properly" were scorned. Perhaps you have too. But does God care what you wear? Probably not. You could make a case for being clean, and dressing well as a sign of respect, but various passages make it clear that our choice of (modest) clothing is not high on God’s list of priorities.

Some people think that all U.S. Christians are Republican. Others think that all moderate Christians are Democrats and that Republican Christians are fanatics. Is our political party one of the things which weighs upon the mind of God? I don’t think so.

Nouwen goes on to explain how even he was sucked into confusing technique with righteousness. He lived for several years in a community of students with special needs. They would celebrate Eucharist together (Communion), and were comfortable with each other. They developed a non-traditional, but loving and natural method of observing this remembrance of Christ. It all felt very spontaneous to them.

But, a few new students eventually joined them and wanted to change things a bit. Nouwen says they were surprised to discover that they felt like telling the newcomers "that’s not how we do it here."

He continues, "We had to face the fact that we had become clannish, substituting our minds for the mind of Jesus Christ."

Isn’t that powerful? I think it’s time to check what’s in my mind and make sure that it’s not focused on trivialities, techniques, or traditions which are not in God's mind.

Romans 14:17


vanilla said...

Just last evening there was a discussion here in the home about the seeming adoption of "Republican"="Christian," "Democrat"="pagan" set of denominators. I tried, perhaps with little success, to make the point that one arena was political, the other religious and correctly speaking they should be considered mutually exclusive.

But I know this is not the point of your article, which I find to be exactly right. But as human beings, I am sure we will never stop projecting our "ideas" onto God, more's the pity.

Secondary Roads said...

Once again you've shown keen insight into the mind of God. To often, it seems, we are concerned about things that don't matter.

"We've always done it that way," seems to be the mantra in too many arenas of human activity.