“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:5-11
The world loves snake oil salesmen: people who create and sell elixirs and ointments based on liquid this and powdered that, pushing cures for every malady under the sun. Oh, you didn’t think people still did that in the 21st century? Next time you’re in your local pharmacy, run your eye along the over-the-counter medicine shelves, take a peek at how many brand name products feel justified in raising the price of their product by a factor of five or even ten, simply through marketing themselves as superior (although the product is identical to the mass market cheap stuff).
While you’re at it, see how many curatives there are on the market for the common cold. There isn’t actually a cure for the common cold. In point of fact, ‘the common cold’ is a catch-all term for any variation on or combination of up to 200 viral types, causing nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis and sinusitis, amongst other conditions. It’s difficult to prevent yourself catching a cold, and once you’ve caught it, the only known way of getting rid of one is to ride it out with plenty of rest and recuperation. That doesn’t stop every cynical, exploitative pharmaceutical company in the world from marketing their ultra-expensive cold remedies as vital to your rehabilitation, of course: when the best they can ever do is possibly assist you in managing the symptoms until the virus has left you.
In the same way, the world is a place of problem solving, engaged in finding solutions to difficulties. So far so good, you might be thinking…except that the focus is literally on the problem and the problem alone, and not every problem gets fixed in a hurry, if at all. Often, God isn’t thinking about resolving whatever issue is placed in front of us: He’s concerned with reframing the way we look at our lives, so that we’re capable of seeing adversity as the opportunity it is, and not the wall that needs to be knocked down or tunneled under.
When we are trapped in negativity, powerless and frustrated, having access to a new way of thinking about our lives is vital: so much more important than addressing the issues that allowed negativity in. We need to move beyond snake oil salesmen and their obsession with treating our symptoms instead of the viral infection that caused them, addressing the problems and difficulties in our lives instead of restructuring the way that we think about our lives. Too much pastoral ministry is devoted to working on our old nature. You know…the old nature that died and was buried with our old selves. We’ve replaced our old selves with new ones, created new, rejuvenated and regenerated men and women where once only old and brittle people stood. Pastoral approaches need to be concerned with developing the thinking that blossoms from the new man, treating the source of spiritual malaise rather than the symptoms.
When we change the way that we think about issues, we change the person we are when we think about God. Just as it’s impossible to set foot into the same river twice, it’s impossible to have the same encounter with God twice when we’re rewired to think brilliantly. Our limitations are self-imposed—and by “self”, we mean the old self. Our new selves can reframe and reappraise what once would have limited us. Spiritual appraisal allows us to have fresh experiences of the Kingdom.
The Holy Spirit, our Helper and Companion, loves to take the fact of Jesus Christ in our lives and make that fact new and real for us every day. In Christ, we are never stuck, nor imprisoned by a thought. We create a place of purity in our thinking, upgrading our mindset to peace, to gentleness and to mercy. No longer prone to doubt or to doubletalk, we move beyond the old spirituality that saw problems wherever they were and often where they weren’t. That spirituality takes us further and further away from His wisdom, giving us a language that reduces faith and trust and renders the deeply joyous relationship we have with God into a purely functional one.
Reframed thoughts are like open questions and affirmations: they allow the mind and the language we use to flower and become enriched by expectation, not poisoned by impossibility. Remember “I can do all things in God, who strengthens me?” That’s not, “most things”, or “I might be able to”. Can do, and all things.
When we address an issue, we need to consider whether the old us is looking at it, or the new us. God has taken all things that were against us in the old self and crucified it with Jesus. Ask yourself what your new, true self is saying. Our old self will seek to apportion blame, remaining in the past, while our new self will simply not be interested in that kind of perspective, and will be facing forward.
As we learn to be present/future in our way of thinking, we can learn to frame our perspectives in a prophetic manner. We address our circumstances in the light of words and promises received via the Spirit, and allow those words to begin to have an immediate effect upon our identity and the way we conduct ourselves.
As we’re in Christ, we get to imagine Christ addressing the same problems we address every day. We step into His shoes, see things from His perspective. How would He see our circumstances? How would He engage with it? These are the basic questions that we need to apply to ourselves and our lives, because all things that were impossible before are now made possible in Him. Everything is possibility and potential, and our minds and hearts are opened up to limitless growth.
The growth of our identity in the Kingdom depends upon our mindset changing. The growth of our new selves will involve the development of a new language to articulate ourselves and communicate with those around us. This is why we’re the Good News. We’re not here to pander to the symptoms. We’re here to step beyond the limitations of the world and its obsession with solutions and snake oil. We’re here to do what can’t be done: to cure the common cold, once and for all.
If you would like more resources on reframing and new-man thinking, be sure to check out The Art of Thinking Brilliantly at Brilliant Book House! Through the end of March you can pick up a copy of The Art of Thinking Brilliantly for just $20 on CD or $10 as an MP3!