Keep This In Mind

Eugene Peterson, in his coverage of the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5) states the sixth Beatitude as "You're blessed when you get your inside world-your mind and heart-put right. Then you can see God in the outside world."

This reminded us of recent readings about discernment. How do we know when we're hearing a true word from God? Hint: it isn't gonna come from an easy source, no matter how religious it sounds. You have to specifically ask God for guidance and you have to listen for his answer. It might not come from a voice of authority. It might come from a peer, it might come from many peers. It might come as a still small voice in the dark of the night. It might come on an ocean wave. But, if you listen, it will come.

If someone tells you something that they've discerned as a spiritual objective for you (something more challenging than, say, intercessory prayer, to which we are all called), you should listen to them, but take it to the Lord in prayer. This might be their plan for you, not God's. Don't let yourself be limited by the plans of others, God isn't restricted by human limitations. Why should you be? Many people of faith will tell us what they think is right and wrong, but only God can tell us what really is right or wrong. What is right for one is not right for all. Beware of false prophets. Jesus told us we'd know them by the fruit they bore.

By the same token, if we listen for God's answers, we might find this person has been sent by him, and does bear his word for us. We need to be right with God before we know for sure.

We are not supposed to be spoon-fed, we're supposed to think for ourselves. Solid food, not milk.

How do you get your mind put right with God? Start with prayer. Not just a quick morning prayer rushed off between a gulp of coffee and mouthful of glazed donut. Frequent prayer. Even a second or two of pure focus on God periodically throughout your day helps to keep him in the forefront of your mind. As we've learned, if you love the Lord with all your heart...and...with all your mind, everything falls into place. He'll be right there for every decision you make. Kind of like that guy in the cell phone commercial, "Can you hear me now?"

If you are truly in communion with God, everything you see and everything you do will have a bit of God in it. And wouldn't that be great? When you're right with God, you can share that joy with others who are seeking. People aren't going to come to God without us. We can't count on vast masses of people who have never set foot in a church to suddenly attend without something drawing them there. That might be us.

God doesn't just speak to us when we're sitting in the pew on Sunday morning. God speaks to us everywhere--when we're reading the headlines of the tabloids in an interminable supermarket checkout line, when we're driving in rush hour traffic, when we're getting ready for yet another meeting, when we're microwaving a frozen meal at the end of a hectic day--when we're too busy for God, that's when we need to listen the most.

Have you talked to God lately? Here's something to keep in mind. Don't just talk, listen.