Our mind is mission control center. It fuels, drives, and directs us. The dynamics at play are legion, and are well-worth our careful reflection. In Part 1, I shared the need to tie up the loose ends of our minds (1 Peter 1:13) due to the worldview-creating power of our thoughts. Then in Part 2, I began sharing some dynamics of the mind that help us form a blueprint of the battlefield.
- The mind is a spiritual battlefield (Gen 4:6-7; Ps 77:1-9, 11-20; Gal 5:16-17; 1 Pet 5:6-7).
- Human thoughts are incomplete, misshapen, and distorted (Rom 12:1-2).
- Your thoughts reflect your identity (Rom 8:5-8).
- Your thoughts reflect your values.
Here in Part 3, I want to explain a fifth dynamic of the mind that plays a very central and public role in life and ministry:
5. Your thoughts shape your relationships. Our relationships and our community are molded by what we think about God, the gospel, ourselves, and each other.
Example 1: A self-centered person will view others as means to an end, as mere instruments and tools serving his pursuit of some greater goal. These self-centered thoughts will mold how he treats (or neglects) others.
Example 2: Romantic thoughts construct blinders which block out the wider community, narrowing one’s thoughts on a particular person. Other people become stage extras who only carry significance if they contribute to or take away from the main drama.
Example 3: If you’ve convinced yourself that correction is implicitly attacking, you will respond defensively when your sins and weaknesses are exposed or challenged. Your relationships will be shaped by self-justification, blame-shifting, cover-ups, and all sorts of defense mechanisms.
The girl who thinks she’s prettier, cuter, and more of a catch puts herself higher on the flow chart and higher in her own invisible caste system. She then acts like this in both blatant and subtle ways. Others must either accept her caste system and her flow chart (resulting in subservience to a false perspective) or reject it (resulting in conflict or at least the requirement to exercise patience). The guy who thinks he’s intellectually superior or rhetorically dominant or athletically supreme will carry himself in a way that expresses his central role in the world around him. In this world it only makes sense for him to value his opinions above others, to talk more than listen, and to deserve victory in every circumstance.
We all have our own caste system. Certain positions and personalities get top billing, while others are relegated to the lower rungs. We construct these systems through culture, experience, family, consequences, authority, and many other factors. In addition, we all occupy our own place within our systems. But Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as well as his example and his teaching overturn our caste systems and call us not only to act differently but to become and think differently.
Men and women shaped by the gospel will interact with others in a radically different way than those whose own narcissistic narrative places them firmly at the center of their own story.