Renewing the mind — Part 2

[notice]Musings around children’s ministry. Reflections on weeks 5 and 6 of a 10 weeks teaching stint.[/notice]

“May your roots go down deep into the soul of God’s marvellous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is, and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it. And so at last you will be filled up with God Himself” — Ephesians 3: 18-19 (Living Bible)

In my last column I wrote about a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine. I’ve been meditating on it and drawing more from what Musekiwa calls, “loving first, loving deep, and loving always like Jesus”. I’ve been overwhelmed by the Love that Lord offers us and have been working with the Holy Spirit to renew my mind that I would begin to “grasp how long, how wide, how deep, and how high His love really is, and to experience this love for [myself]” (Ephesians 3:19). The funny thing is that even though God’s gift of love is so free and He is so gracious with us…I’ve discovered that I don’t afford myself the same mercy!

This week, a friend brought his son, Carter, over to visit on the little boy’s birthday. He was so excited and running up and down with his new toys. The house quickly began to look like a warzone and those of us who are accident prone, relegated ourselves to the office, to avoid tripping over transformer toys. During lunch, my precious three year old friend in his excitement tripped over a toy and hit his head on the floor. We immediately employed the age old tactic of smiling and laughing about it rather than getting upset and the newly turned three year old was laughing and clowning around soon after. My colleague called Carter over to kiss the spot where he’s hit his head and Carter immediately began to admonish the floor for hitting him.

“Bad floor” He said as he emphatically stamped the floor to punish it.

Sense of justice
I was tickled by the sense of justice that is so prevalent in little ones. We’ve all seen tears and drama because “Susie took my doll”, or “It’s not fair!” I think we all have a keen sense of justice; it is part of God’s fingerprint on our lives. I’m reminded of that scripture in Romans 1 that talks about how we all instinctively know the Truth about God, and right and wrong, because, “God has put this knowledge in [our] hearts”.

Anyway, I’ve been asking the Lord to renew my mind and help me to accept His love fully. And watching Carter I realised that part of what holds me back from accepting the fullness of His Love is that the same sense of ‘justice’ that Carter has is in me too. It is in me to believe that punishment awaits anyone who does something wrong. That’s not too far off is it? And as no one knows a man better than his own spirit (1 Corinthians 2: 11), no one knows how much I deserve to be punished better than I do right? When I was little I employed a strategy to avoid being in trouble with my parents…you may know it…it’s the old “Get there first manoeuvre” . The tactic is to punish yourself (and harshly) before your parents do so they see your remorse and go easy on you. If it worked with my earthly parents, it should be fine with God right? WRONG! This is another example of how the world’s values sneak in and corrupt the Truth of what God says. We are made free by Jesus and the Bible says that only He is the Righteous judge. That means He can’t be swayed by bribery, or manipulative tactics! (Believe me no one is more upset by this than me!)

How often do we put ourselves down, or hold back from entering His presence with confidence because we are stamping ourselves as hard as little Carter did the floor to punish ourselves? This brings no glory to God. In fact it is a slap in the face, and suggests that what He did was not enough and we need to assist Him in meting out justice. The Word says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8: 1). If we truly believe that Jesus’ work on the Cross was complete and has saved us from our sin; then we can unconditionally receive it. There’s nothing we can do to extinguish His love for us, it is stronger than death, and defeated the grave remember?! His love covers a multitude of sins. As long as we truly repent and hold to the identity He purchased for us on the Cross, we are free to embrace Him and receive His love.

Loving deeply
Musekiwa shared with me that, “to love deep means to draw from the very core and foundation of your life. It means to embrace your intended recipient without conditions (as hard as it is). To be like Jesus means we have capacity to genuinely love our enemies”. Jesus loves His enemies…let that sink in! He has the capacity to love so deeply that even while we were sinners, He died for us. My mind is blown by that…it’s not about me. Jesus took care of that already! He’s standing at the door of our heart knocking, asking to spend time with us (Revelation 3:20) He’s done everything necessary for that Love between us to grow and our part is to open our hearts to Him and let Him fully enter our lives. In Ephesians 3:18-19, Paul relates being filled with God to grasping even an inkling of His love for us… I want the fullness of His love don’t you? I want what Paul described, to be filled up with God Himself. I’m tired of taking little sips when I have the freedom to drink deeply of His love.

For me that journey starts with renewing my mind to understand that I am not the Judge. He is…He paid the price for us to live freely and approach Him with confidence. This means that even though I don’t always agree with others, I can’t judge them. It means that I mess up sometimes but it is not my job to punish myself. Jesus says to repent and rest in what He accomplished on the Cross. It means that the evil things that go on in this world don’t have to cause me to despair because they will be accounted for. We’re not alone like orphans left to fend for themselves, Jesus promised us that. He is Emmanuel and He is Judge.

This week may you find comfort in this fact. He is Judge. May you be released from condemnation, despair, depression because he is Judge.

“Do not weep. You see, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, and proved Himself worthy to open the scroll and to break its seven seals” — Revelation 5:5

HE IS ON THE THRONE AND HE IS THE ONLY ONE WORTHY TO JUDGE. To Him belong the glory, honour and power. Dearest reader, the Truth will set you free, and the Truth is that JESUS IS THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE. You are loved, set free and whole in Jesus’ name.

One Comment

  1. Twice in her column Sifiso rightly calls for REPENTANCE, and yet urges us not to judge ourselves (or others). Would not “a renewed mind” find a contradiction here? True Repentance starts with seeing ourselves and our sin as God sees us: we are guilty sinners. We judge ourselves by recognising this reality, mourning our sins, and turning from them. Our un-renewed minds would like to be let off lightly and find a quick fix in God’s Love. Is such a soft view of our sin, such a soft view of the utter holiness of God, compatible with the extreme price God paid in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross? The more I try to measure that atoning sacrifice, born of God’s love for me and others, the more I realise the measure of the awfulness of my sin. “I calculate Your hatred of sin that causes loss/ by Jesus’ drastic action in going to the cross./ How can I then still play with the nails His flesh had torn?/ Lord, give me holy horror of sin in every form.” It is when we ponder the cross (in Communion) that we are urged to “judge ourselves, otherwise the Lord Himself will judge us with His discipline.” (1 Cor 11:23-32). The “no condemnation” of Romans 8 applies to those “who do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit” (v4ff)and the “renewed mind” of Romans 12:2 “does not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” which is super-tolerant of sin, and encourages a non-judgmental attitude to sin. The worldly minded person does not take responsibility for leaving the mess on the floor, but blames “the floor” for the consequences. The mind of the Spirit repents of the mess, takes responsibility for the consequences, accepts the gracious forgiveness of God, and resolves not to make a mess again.