Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2
If you died with Christ to the way the world thinks and acts, why do you submit to rules and regulations as though you belonged to the world? “Don’t handle!” “Don’t taste!” “Don’t touch!” All these things cease to exist when they are used. Such rules are human commandments and teachings. They look like they are wise with this self-made religion and their self-denial by the harsh treatment of the body, but they are no help against indulging in selfish immoral behavior. – Colossians 2:20-23
Sometimes I find myself annoyed at how long it takes me to start writing once I sit at my desk. I am anxious to get going, finish the task, then move on to what’s next. But then I start to read – usually the scriptures – and I am glad that I must go through this process, this centering in Christ, this prayer, this meditation, this mindfulness, this time of reflection before I begin to share something with hundreds and sometimes thousands of people around the world.
It is a process that is antithetical to “the way the world thinks and acts,” and diametrically opposed to, “the behavior and customs of this world.”
In other words, the very practice that annoys me (when I am too distracted) – the time consuming attention to the here and now, the reflection, the attuning to God’s purpose for this moment – is exactly what Paul recommends in these scriptures.
What is the point of my writing devotionally if not to move out of the sphere of frenetic busy preoccupation?
It makes no sense at all for me to point my readers to God’s word if I am not prepared to rest there a while myself.
Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword in popular culture; it is a practice – essentially a type of meditation – where individuals learn to become focused on and aware of “the moment.” Questions such as “what am I sensing?” and “what am I feeling?” are engaged without trying to overanalyze and certainly not to judge.
The scriptures point out that such an approach is not typically what the ambient culture values – not then, and certainly not now. Our world tends to focus on “what’s next,” finishing the task at hand, and getting to the “result” often at the expense of process.
Jesus described it this way: “The kind of peace I offer is nothing at all like the understanding of peace the world has in mind. So do not be troubled.”
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27
My job then – my opportunity – is to dwell in, to rest in, to “be present” in the Jesus quality of peace. And if there is anywhere that God wants to meet us, it is in the present, in this moment, exactly where and how we are.
Religion versus Jesus:
It seems to me, and beautifully referenced by Paul in his assessment, that a lot of what is crammed down people’s throats as “Christianity” stands essentially in opposition to the teachings of Jesus, and of Paul, in terms of replicating the errors of the world: “rules are human commandments and teachings. They look like they are wise with this self-made religion” (Colossians 2).
Jesus invites us away from the standards and practices of “the world” and into a Christ-centered mindfulness that is “My peace and not the world’s…”
I think that is enough for us to chew on for today.
Live – and love, and serve, and shine – mindfully, immersed in the Jesus quality of peace.
Because this is what love has set us free for – DEREK