Changing From The Inside Out

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!…” -1 John 3:1

Today’s reading.

A couple nights ago my son Cooper showed me a You-Tube video called “You Are Two” about how the brain works. It is based mostly on the observations of people, after having the hemispheres of their brains severed as a supposed cure for epilepsy. In a normal brain there are two hemispheres operating in collaboration, each controlling half your body. “Half your vision goes to each and half your movement is directed by each. Right controls left and left controls right. Speech resides only in the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere is mute.” But when the neurological connection between them is severed, each side of the body sees and controls the world more independently. For example the right side and the left might each simultaneously select different shirts to wear. Weird. It is as if these people are now two people housed within one body.

In the best selling book, “Incognito — The Secret Lives of The Brain” author David Eagleman, a Neuroscientist who directed the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, both at Baylor College of Medicine, wrestles with the notion of free will. He describes the latest theory of brain function by referencing Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals.” Lincoln’s hand selected cabinet, comprised of accomplished leaders with very different views on the important issues of the day. The brain, Eagleman suggests, is a collection of voices that represent the interests of different systems, all ultimately answering to a CEO of sorts that has to make ultimate decisions to override conflicting agendas. What is the nature of these decisions and can they be overridden by outside signals?

Similarly, I have several friends who have imaginary boards of directors from which they recieve guidance. Their internal conversations include imagined voices, the likes of Einstein, Churchill, Lincoln and other great leaders that have been selected as fantasy advisors.

Then there are theories about genetic memories, and the collective conscious and unconscious of humanity, thanks in part to the brilliant Psychologist Carl Jung.

All this makes me wonder: How do our minds really work? These magnificent and powerful organs that in many ways remain mysterious, despite great advances in scientific knowledge. And what can science say about the mind of God or His grand design? The story revealed by the Bible and confirmed by the history of humanity and in countless individual encounters with the living God.

Were we made to have the Spirit of God, and the consciousness of Christ reside in us? After all we are God’s children, right? The more I come to understand my mind, the more importance I place on my relationship with God. The more the unity of the trinity make sense to me; as well as internal conflicts, mental illness; and perhaps even demonic influence.

It makes perfect sense that the Spirit of God contributes to our mental process, especially in people who look to God for direction. But first we need to know God. This requires enough faith to believe in the possibility that He exists. Then, in the hopeful innocence of a child, we begin to see God as our father in Heaven. When we seek God we find Jesus. If we understand who Jesus is, then we know God and his deep abiding love for all people — for us, and especially the sinner, the weak, the broken and the oppressed.

I have experienced first hand, both walking with God and running away from Him. For me there can be no doubt of the the difference. The desires of my flesh are fanned by a world culture that values material productivity, domination through competition, power, wealth and pleasure. These are the things that always leave me wanting — ironically in the glory of my greatest personal achievements. It is only in my surrender to God that I am able to walk in the light. For me, this has been the easiest and hardest thing I have ever experienced.

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” -1 John 3:9

As a Christian I have struggled with Sin. I know I am forgiven, and that by faith, through grace, I’m considered righteous by God through the power of the cross. My desire is to live a pure and holy life but I am far from this. For a time I found comfort in the notion that I am a sinner, but forgiven. Lately I have come to believe that without constant and victorious transformation, I am not receiving the full blessing of God or the fulfillment of His purpose for me. It is as if the prodigal son returns to the feast and to the embrace of his father’s unconditional love and forgiveness, only to continue to question which life is better. There can be no doubt.

In his book “The Good and Beautiful God,” James Bryan Smith helps a Christian Businessman “Carey” deal with his identity in Christ. They ponder the same question I have wrestled with for years. “Am I a sinner or a saint?”

“Carey came to me because he was frustrated by his actions. But when I looked at him I saw something else. I saw a child of God, a person in whom Christ dwells, an inhabitant of eternity bought by the blood of Christ and infused with God’s power and presence, who was living a sad, fearful and defeated life. What I wanted for Carey was not simply the cessation of unwanted behavior but a deeper life in Christ—fullness, warmth, power and joy that he did not know he already possessed.”

Even though my transformation in Christ has been remarkable in many ways, I know there is so much more I am capable of through Him. There is so much more I am called to be and do. What’s holding me back?

I think it’s true that we are natural sinners. Even as Christ followers we are prone to sin, but “forgiven sinner” isn’t the full description of our relationship with God. Christ forming in us is not a small thing and shouldn’t be underestimated or ignored. We have His victory now infused in our DNA, within our earthly bodies, yet still prone to sin. We have power we do not understand, waiting to assist us to do things we cannot do on our own, to fulfill a destiny we cannot even imagine. This is the power of God!

We are called to be saints, though we must still wrestle with sin. Perhaps this is how we develop our strength. But sin no longer has power or dominion in our lives. We are NEW CREATIONS and Jesus has restored us, mind, body and soul, reconnecting us to the God of our creation, offering us citizenship in His kingdom and a role in the restoration of paradise.

There have been many times I feel guilty, understanding that my sin puts Jesus back on the cross, again and again. But what I missed was that in order to grow in my Christian walk, I need to embrace a deeper fellowship with the resurrected Christ, he who lives within me.

We are God’s temple. Jars of clay that miraculously contain the Spirit of the Living God — the holy and pure, resurrected, victorious Christ. Does this make a difference in your faith narrative; in your life? It sure has in mine.

We must look to the cross, but also to the resurrection as we die to sin and rise in Christ!

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” -Luke 18:16

By God’s amazing love we receive the forgiveness of sins, a gift we have not earned and the fellowship of the resurrected Christ, a thing we do not deserve. In our brokenness we are made whole. In our darkness we are made to shine. In our surrender we are made strong. I pray today that each of us would begin the next leg of the lifelong journey towards holiness, in the power of the Living Word and in God’s Holy and indwelling Spirit. I pray this for all my family, friends, business partners, present and future Bible Journal writers, customers, tenants, employees, small group members, church and community members and Bible Journal readers. Amen.