For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
My Icon Corner (© John Gresham)
How many clichés and quotes are there that teach that a man will wind up where his mind is? My late grandfather-in-law and mentor, Rev. Carter Wicks, used to say that “A Man Is His Mind.” If his and other similar words are true, I think it pays for us to do more than periodical reality checks. We need daily monitoring and adjusting. Because there are so many strong temptations to keep us thinking about the things of the world rather than the things of God. This is not to say that we should all become strict monastics and leave everything we have to live in a cave the rest of our lives for the sake of prayer and contemplation. But, unless prayer throughout the day becomes a part of our lives, we risk our faith eroding into spiritual uselessness.
I am not simply talking about the obvious sins that hold us down such as lust, anger, hate, greed, and the like. Anything that separates us from the love of God and love for our fellow-man is carnal. Take politics (and throw it in a cesspool where it belongs), conservatism and liberalism are two sides of the same coin of our need for earthly government. We will all take a different stance from one another for various reasons. But, in order for a coin to have any value, it has to have both a head and tail. Both sides must work in cooperation with each other. Due to the presence of wealth and winner-take-all power hyped up by the likes of Fox and MSNBC, we have harsher polarizing arguments than constructive agreements.
What saddens me is that Christianity is buying into this earthly coin and the argument that we must staunchly defend one side or the other. As people of this nation, of course we will have opinions of which direction this nation should take. But, we who have been given the Gospel of God’s redeeming love should never give into vilifying those whose political opinions do not match our own. If anything, we should be a mediating force between (no, above) the right and left and seek Godly solutions to our national, state, and local problems. As Martin Luther King Jr noted in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” rather than being a thermostat that controls the temperature in a house, the church has become a thermometer that only measures and reflects the temperature. And when we spend more time reflecting our chosen sides rather than seek after something of far greater value, we make ourselves useless (and sometimes harmful) to the Gospel.
So, to my brothers and sisters to the left and right, I make this suggestion. For every minute you spend watching Fox News or MSNBC, spend a minute and a half in honest and sincere contemplative prayer. For every moment listening to Beck or Maddow, spend a moment and a half in self-reflection in light of the Lord who created and loves both equally. Most of us who are in our 40’s have, perhaps, another 30 to 40 years to call ourselves Americans. Where we go after that depends on where we have put our minds. If we have set our minds on earthly divisiveness and strife based on one side or the other of a political coin that will eventually be destroyed, that is where we can expect to spend eternity. If we have set our minds on seeking spiritual purity and loving others, we will be in that place of eternal wholeness.