Garry preached from Romans 12:1-2 this morning, focussing on the ‘renewing of our minds’. God wants all of us, every part of our live, and that obviously includes our minds – that faculty of perceiving and understanding, our capacity for reasoning and thinking. Jesus reminded His disciples that the greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Matt 12:29-30); both our feelings (emotions) and thoughts are to be used in our love for and service of God.

The way we think develops over time and the world influences the way we think in ways that can, at times, be difficult to discern. Our cultures, families, friends and the media all influence the way we think. There are different ways of learning things, but often life is lived from procedural memory: we have done something so many times (eg riding a bike or driving a car) that it has become ‘automatic’ and we no longer think about it the way we used to when we were learning how to do that thing. Procedures can be helpful in establishing the correct way to do things (eg the ‘standard operating procedures’ necessary to operate certain kinds of engineering equipment, for example), but we have to recognise that the world has made its mark on us, rather like the mark made on a tile by a tiler, so that when pressure is applied, the tile cracks according to the line made on it. If we are not careful, the world, with its sin-filled thinking (see Romans 7:23), influences and shapes our thinking and consequently our behaviour. When the pressure comes, we ‘crack’ according to the world’s way of thinking, instead of responding in the way that God wants us to respond.

We need to get out of this groove and allow God to fill in the cracks so that we can follow God’s reasoning and God’s thinking. God has to reveal to us where our thoughts and ways are wrong (see Ps 139:23-24) and we are cleansed by the Word (see Eph 5:25-27) so that we can recognise the faulty thought patterns and understand that there is an alternative way to live. This brings with it the challenge to live in ways the world perceives as failure or weakness, being willing to lay aside our rights and embrace an alternative method of living, where love, forgiveness and meekness are the path to the crown of life.