Put on the Mind of Christ
Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians: “Be anxious for nothing. Nothing. Is that possible in today’s world? We live in a culture of anxiety. As a national newspaper shouted in a headline: “It’s not just you; we’re all living in the United States of Anxiety. In fact, we live in a social, political and religious climate that is all too frequently angry, polarized and fragmented.
The Webster’s Dictionary definition of anxiety is: a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something that might happen. In the Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for anxiety is merimna. It means to be pulled or ripped in opposite directions, to fracture a person’s being into parts. To choke.
And what do we worry about? One psychological study found that:
- 40 percent of the time, we worry about things that will never happen.
- 30 percent about things of the past (which can’t be changed).
- 12 percent about the criticism of others (and mostly untrue).
- 10 percent about health, which does get worse with worry!
- Only 8 percent are concerned, not worried, about real problems that can be solved.
In other words, most anxiety and stress come from our imaginations, our thoughts. We dread things that have not happened or ever will. We can feel this anxiety. And it does tear us apart. We feel it in our muscles. We tense up into knots – not just our physical muscles, but our spiritual and emotional muscles, as well. At bottom, these are all just worthless worries.
Let’s go back to Paul’s words: Be anxious for nothing. But how is that possible? Paul gives us the answer earlier in his Philippian letter: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Paul is telling us to put on the mind of Christ. In the negative, that means we must no longer think, the way the world thinks or to behave the way the world behaves – in fear, insecurity, anxiety. In the positive, it means that we must seek to imitate the attitudes and behavior of Jesus.
Put on the mind of Christ. Paul gives us the specifics:
- Whatever is true
- Whatever is honorable
- Whatever is just
- Whatever is pure
- Whatever is lovely
- Whatever is gracious
“If there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,
Think about THESE things.”
Not the stuff that will never happen
- Not the stuff of the past
- Not the stuff about untrue criticism
- Not any of that stuff
- Because these things tear us apart, physically and spiritually.
- Because this is all just worthless worry.
- Because all this negative stuff is nothing more than garbage in, and garbage out!
Paul tells us to put on the mind of Christ: his attitude, his behavior, his love, his forgiveness, his compassion. Think on these things. And when we do, something wonderful will happen:
“The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”
Reflection Copyright 2018 by Deacon Manuel Valencia
Photograph Copyright 2018 by Michael J. Cunningham
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