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ReVision

The Most Fundamental Error of Thinking

We need to guard against it.

Pitfalls for the Mind (6)

“These things you have done, and I kept silent;

You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.” Psalm 50.21

Asaph
Surely, this is the most fundamental error of thinking humans ever make: to think of God, spiritual things, worship, human life, the world, and everything else from our vantage point rather than His.

This was Israel’s problem in the days immediately following the construction of the temple. These were high-flying days for Israel, days of great prosperity and influence, when the nations of the world looked to Solomon and Jerusalem as the source of wisdom and wealth (cf. 1 Kgs. 10).

Asaph prophesied during this time. Appointed by King David to lead the musicians in worship, Asaph was ready to serve when, under Solomon’s leadership, David’s vision finally came to reality.

But the deeper reality Israel experienced as the temple was being built, shielded from the eyes of most, was the disastrous state of the nation’s spiritual life. As glorious as the temple was, and as powerful as Israel became during the reign of Solomon, the rot of spiritual and moral compromise set in, even in the king’s household, and under his leadership (cf. 1 Kgs. 11).

Outward success and growth; inward shallowness and self-seeking. It’s a familiar story.

Asaph could see what was happening. And even though the nation was safe, strong, and surfeited with wealth, he knew that, spiritually, things were going awry. The people had persuaded themselves that God was just like them, that He thought like they did, and so was agreeable to their doing things their own way, indulging all their base desires, and pursuing their schemes for success – all the while continuing an outward show of faith.

Asaph saw the sham in all this. He is the author of 12 Psalms, (50 and 73-83), and the general tone of those psalms is so out of step with the times in which Asaph wrote them, that many scholars have difficulty assigning these psalms to the Asaph appointed by David.

But Hezekiah, in a later generation, understood the message of Asaph, and he commanded that the psalms of Asaph be used in his day, when the people were trying to emerge from a period of spiritual languishing into the light of revival and renewal (2 Chron. 29.30). Asaph’s psalms can lead us to revived thinking as well.

Not like us at all
We will not mature in the mind of Christ if we keep thinking that God is like us, that above all He wants us to be happy, wants us to enjoy ourselves and not to inconvenience ourselves in any way, whether spiritual or material. We deprive ourselves of the blessings of God so long as we think we can worship Him as we like, serve Him as we please, make His Word say whatever we want, and pick-and-choose our way through the life of faith. This is what Solomon and Israel did, and it’s what we do as well; and, since we do it in the Name of the Lord, we must think that He thinks like we do about following Jesus, that as long as we continue to “worship” Him, we can do pretty much whatever we want, and still consider ourselves to be Christians.

When, through the prophet Asaph, God called His people together in worship, His purpose was to expose their spiritual rot, denounce the outward sham of their lives, and remind them that, when it came to how they thought about Him and the life of faith, they had it altogether backwards.

We will not realize a sound mind if we are always starting with ourselves, our experience, our desires, and our ability to think things through. We deprive ourselves of the perspective, presence, power, and promise of God if we try, like Nicodemus, to force His agenda and power into our puny, familiar, comfortable human ways. Or if, like the people of Israel, we indulge our every whim and fancy, all the while telling ourselves that, because we’re still worshiping God, we’re right where we should be, and all’s well between us.

God is not like us, and He does not intend to become like us. Rather, God’s work is to make us become like Him, to transform us – beginning in our minds – so that we think like Jesus, feel like Jesus, will what Jesus wills, and do what Jesus has commanded us to do.

Look to the Lord
We need to look to the Lord to set things in order for us, so that we understand His Word and ways, and get our minds around His thinking and will. Then we can set goals, make plans, and take the next steps of faith, trusting in Him, seeking His glory, resting in His power and promise, and giving Him praise and thanks for all He does in and through us.

But if we keep insisting that God should be pleased to do things our way rather than His, bless our priorities instead of His, overlook our “little sins”, and go along with our ideas about what it means to be saved, to be a Christian, or to grow a church, realizing the soundness of mind that makes for a strong soul will continue to elude us.

God is not like us, and if we are ever going to become more like Him, we need to let His Word define our faith, determine our path, and direct everything we do in His Name.

We have the mind of Christ! Let us learn to think with this mind, and not merely our own.

For reflection
1.  Can you think of some ways it might appear to God that we think He is just like us?

2.  What might be some signs suggesting that we are trying to make God in our own image, rather than allowing Him to remake us in His?

3.  Read Psalm 50. Do you see any parallels between this psalm and the state of things in churches today?

Next steps – Preparation: Use Psalm 50 as a guide to prayer for yourself and your church. Listen as you pray for the Lord to point out any areas where your thinking is not what it should be.

T. M. Moore

Thanks for your prayers and support
If you find ReVision helpful in your walk with the Lord, please seek the Lord, asking Him whether you should contribute to the support of this ministry with your financial gifts. As the Lord leads, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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