• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

A “Closing Mind”

It’s been 264 hours since my last post.  That’s way too long.  Yet, the time has afforded me the opportunity to begin to detect a habitual response in my mind to certain conversations; a response that is concerning.  I guess you might say I’m trying to work out, by the Spirit’s help, what it means to become more self-aware (see a previous post about this idea of self-awareness)

It actually happened several times over the past few days.  The first time was with a friend who was visiting.  We were out walking the beach on a weekend, when he stopped, pulled out his Bible from his pocket and began to read Psalm 95.  He turned his eyes towards the ocean when he read: “In whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His, for it was He who made it.”  Then he paused when he got to the line: “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.  Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah.”  He turned and looked at me, and said, “David, we are hearing the voice of the Lord today, here in His creation.”  He stopped, took my hand along with the others with us, bowed his head and prayed a prayer filled with worship to the Lord.  I felt uncomfortable.  People walking the beach were watching this small group huddled together, heads bowed.  This is France, where such outward expressions are not the norm.  Something didn’t feel right in my heart.  Something was “closing”.

It happened a second time when I was out to breakfast with a couple who were visiting France on a vision trip.  In sharing their journey, they listed off a number of insights they were gaining about the French people and their needs (emotional & spiritual). As I listened, I found myself wanting to disagree with what they were saying.  I thought to myself, they’ve only been here two weeks and they think they’ve figured out this culture.  Fortunately, the Lord gave me grace to not speak up, and just continue listening.  Yet, that “closing” feeling was there again.

When it happened a third time, I took a step back to reflect.  It was then that, slowly, I began to recognize the indicators of what I will call a “closing mind” or heart.  One indicator is being unable to discern how God might be speaking to me (to us) through different and varied sources.  A second would be an unhealthy confidence in my own cultural (and spiritual) journey that would keep me from looking at new ideas, new perspectives.

Are either of those indicators present within us as a community or as a mission?

3 Responses

  1. I have also been recently thinking along the lines of a “closing mind” in thinking through and applying Romans chapters 12, 13, & 14.

    Rom. 12:1 & 2 encourages a mindset transformed by God as we yield ourselves as a living sacrifice and and refuse to conform to the influences of the age. In the very next verse we are told, “…not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment,…” Then in verse 10 we read, “…give preference to one another in honor;…” Later in verse 16 we are told, “Be of the same mind towards one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.”

    Chapter 12 relates to how a transformed mind operates within the body, the church,. Chapter 13 tells how the transformed mind makes decisions of behavior in the larger society, and chapter 14 how the transformed mind processes behavior when believers have different scruples or different strong convictions.

    Rom. 12: 2 as unpacked in chapters 12, 13, & 14 is one of the important keys to keeping an open mind to others while following biblical principles. A transformed mind is the basis of of having true community in both the church, missions as well as in the world, is it not?.

  2. Wow. How many of us have been ‘there’ with well-meaning visitors? How many times have I asked the same questions or had that same sense of ‘closing’? My only question is whether you mean your own closing of ideas or the closing of doors by well-meaning supporters. Or both? The difficulty I see is that you are to some degree defined by those around you by what happens in moments such as the one you mentioned on the beach. We are also deflated when someone tries to give premature advice. I think your examples seem to fit these categories.

    Yes, I think we should be open to fresh insights but there should also be some way to speak up (also with grace) and inform those well-meaning influences to consider another perspective. I don’t know how. I often find myself lamenting over these things after the fact and never getting around to a solution to the problem. I’m all ears if anyone has insight in this area.

    • Good insights. I did not want to imply that we listen to every idea that comes out of someone’s mouth, but I do (and I think others do as well) find myself “dismissing” others too quickly without discerning any nugget of truth or insight the Lord might be trying to communicate to me. A friend use to say that there is an element of truth in every criticism, otherwise it wouldn’t hurt. Our role is to sift out what that small element of truth might be and allow the Lord to work it into our life.

      Incidents such as I described might also highlight places both where we need to pray & look for opportunities to gracefully help the other grow, but they also places where we may need to grow.

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