By Jason K. Allen
When we become Christians, God redeems our minds like the rest of our personhood. It does not mean that through conversion we receive a higher I.Q., but it does mean that, for once, we can truly honor God with our minds.
At conversion, we receive “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). Like other dimensions of the Christian life, this is something God does in us, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but it is also something we are responsible to pursue and cultivate.
How do we accomplish this? How does the gospel impact our minds? How do we cultivate a renewed mind, with thoughts, deliberations, and ideas that honor him? Let’s consider renewing our minds in three different, yet mutually reinforcing, dimensions.
1. Filling Your Mind
The first step toward renewing your mind is the steady intake of God’s Word. Peter calls Christians to “desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2).
This is an ongoing process for every believer throughout our Christian lives, but usually the early years after our conversion serve as an inflection point.
Yet, we cannot be content to merely read the Bible; we must make sure to meditate on it. Historically, meditation was a distinctly Christian practice, but these days it rings in the ear like an Eastern religion. Unlike Eastern religions, Christian meditation is not about emptying the mind; it is about filling it.
In addition to reading and meditating on Scripture, you can also receive it by sitting under sound preaching, listening to audio Bible readings, and, of course, memorizing it. Whatever the means, the first key is to fill your mind.
2. Guarding Your Mind
If filling your mind refers to what you take in, guarding your mind refers to what you keep out. This is a challenge. We live in an age of visual saturation, ever-present social media, and pursuing temptation.
Again, we tend to think of temptation as a matter of the heart, but it is just as much a matter of the mind. The information we let in, the thoughts we entertain, the ideas we foster, all can do much good—or much evil.
Yet, as Christians, we have our marching orders. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (see 2 Cor. 10:5).
We guard our minds not only by what we keep out, but by what we choose to dwell on. Our thought life is a powerful tool, for better or worse. What we determine to think on is, in many ways, determinative for our spiritual lives.
That is why the apostle Paul exhorts us accordingly, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable— if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things” (Phil. 4:8).
3. Framing Your Mind
Lastly, not only are we to fill our minds and guard them, we are to frame them as well. By this I mean we are to cultivate, intentionally, a biblical outlook, or paradigm, through which we view and interpret the world.
We can only do this through scriptural intake. The intake of the Word reframes our outlook and gives us a theological foundation to engage life and view the world, and to process all of life from a Christian worldview.
Michael Wittmer defines worldview as “a framework of fundamental concepts or beliefs about the world. In short, a worldview comprises the lens through which we see the world.”
Everyone has a worldview. Both believers and unbelievers function by a set of beliefs, presuppositions, and assumptions they make about life.
For Christians, essential to the process of renewing our minds is cultivating a biblical worldview. Thus, we train our minds to think biblically about grand, life-shaping realities and principles like creation, human existence, human relationships and sexuality, the afterlife, and every other touch point of intellectual formation.
Christianity is both a religion of the heart and the mind. Christians often err on both ends of the spectrum, most often on the heart end. But, we must understand that, ultimately, the renewing of the mind is to lead to a renewed person— affecting the totality of our personhood. In other words, the mind is to feed and shape the heart.
JASON K. ALLEN (@JasonKeithAllen) is the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of is the author of The SBC & the 21st Century, Discerning Your Call to Ministry and Being a Christian: How Jesus Redeems All of Life from which this post is excerpted with permission. Copyright 2018, B&H Publishing Group.