Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (THE MESSAGE)
The whole idea of mind control is offensive to us. It conjures up images of evil people trying to manipulate us, to brainwash us into some misguided conformity. Then again, it is a thoroughly biblical practice as expressed in our text.
Lots of sad and bad things happen in our world and Christians are not immune from them. Christians get sick, suffer loss, get sad just like the rest of humankind. We don’t live in an insulated bubble, sailing serenely above the disorder of the world.
However, we need not succumb to fear or panic or hopelessness. And it is here that mind control does its job. Reading the headlines is necessary since we live in the world. But so too is reading the Scriptures since we live under the eye and the care of the God of the world. And so we allow ourselves to focus not just on what is immediately happening ‘out there’, but on the deeper and more assuring realities behind what is happening.
Focussing on what is good and true and noble doesn’t mean denying more unpleasant realities. It is not cheery optimism. It is simply remembering that while there is much darkness around, there are also pinpricks of light. It is facing one challenging reality but recognising an even greater reality beyond: the strong grace of God.
When we practise mind control we don’t ignore the darkness. We just choose not to live in it.
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