Sunday, March 18, 2018

Minutes that Matter: March 2018

Here is the transcript and the link to the third of my talks for RTHK Radio 4's Minutes that Matter programme on Fridays in March.

Talk Three: Clear Thinking

St Paul writes that the 'god of this world has blinded the MINDS of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Our minds matter.  How we think affects how we act and how we see the world around us. If we are to live the Christian life, we need to get our minds sorted out.  St Paul urges believers to be 'transformed by the renewing of their MINDS' (Romans 12:2).  In his letter to the Philippians, he writes that we should let the 'same MIND be in us that was in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 2:5).

This doesn't just refer to what we believe, although that's important.  Nor is it to suggest that church sermons should be more intellectual, although that wouldn't do us any harm either.  It means in the first instance getting our worldview right.  How we see the world and approach our daily lives needs to be re-orientated so that our lives are centred on God and his priorities and concerns rather than those of the society in which we live.  This will affect every aspect of our lives: our beliefs, our relationships, our values and attitudes, as well as our behaviour.

This is not to argue for a dry, cerebral style of Christianity.  It is, however, to argue that as Christians we need to concentrate and focus our thoughts and thinking.  If we don't, then we will simply find ourselves following the prevailing thinking in the world around us; adopting its values, attitudes, and concerns.  All of which come from its rebellion against God.

St Paul writes, in his most famous letter to the Romans, that as a consequence of the human refusal to honour God and give thanks to him for our existence, we became ‘futile’ in our thinking (Romans 1:21).  Instead of worshipping the one true God, we now worship gods of our own creation and replace the service of God with the pursuit of power, pleasure, and prosperity.

God’s reaction to this, says St Paul, is simply to let us get on with it.  If this is what we want, this is what we can have.  But let there be no misunderstanding: rather than this all being a sign of independent and original thinking, it only serves to show how debased our minds have become and how corrupt our behaviour.

Ironically, the world accuses Christians of being the ones who are brainwashed; of being unable to think for ourselves; of being irrational and gullible; of having blind faith despite the overwhelming evidence against it.  All this because we refuse to go along with the prevailing climate of opinion and all this from the most brainwashed generation in history.  A generation that is constantly having its mind made up for it and is constantly being told what to do, what to buy, and how to live through advertising, social media, and the many forms of thought control that are now a characteristic of life in the developed world.

Ours is an age in which dissent from society's values is met with intolerance and even persecution. Western society claims to value freedom; however try going against society's adopted norms when it comes to belief and behaviour and see what happens.  Try expressing orthodox Christian faith publicly and see what happens.  Biblical faith is up against it and those who hold it need to wake up and gather our thoughts.  We can either follow society's thinking, changing our faith to fit in, as is happening in many parts of the Church at the moment, or we can insist on having the mind of Christ.

Post-modernist thinking currently dominating our culture pours scorn on the idea of there being any authority outside of ourselves and rejects the idea of there being any external source of objective truth; truth is believed to be personal and relative.  Truth, in other words, is whatever is true to me.

Jesus, however, claimed himself to be the truth.  He said that his followers would know the truth and the truth would set them free; his Spirit, he promised, would lead them into all truth; and St Paul writes that God has shone in believers’ hearts to give the ‘light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’

Questions of truth are difficult. Christians believe they have their answer in Jesus Christ.

This is the link to the audio of the Talk:

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