The apostle Peter believed in Jesus and followed him faithfully for three years, and yet at the last supper, Jesus tells him, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Are we converted? We certainly hope so. Peter might have thought he was converted, but clearly Jesus did not. Peter’s actions later that evening con- firmed that Peter’s faith was unsteady. Conversion requires a change in thinking and actions, and Peter’s thinking had not altered to the point that he was converted.
We want to be converted to become disciples of Christ, which means the way we think and live our lives must change. John Maxwell tells us, “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” The philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson reveals the key to how to make it happen: “We become what we think about all day long.”
What kind of habits do we have? What do we think about all the time? If we don’t make an effort to build godly habits into our daily life and fill our minds with the word of God, we are not changing our characters to what would please our God. If we want to be converted and change to become children of God, we need to start channeling our thinking to the kind of thoughts that lead us towards the Kingdom, and then behave accordingly.
The world is constantly trying to affect our thinking. We must fight back by plan- ning spiritual thoughts, otherwise we will not become spiritually minded. We know the importance of spiritual mindedness because the apostle Paul tells us: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” If we want our Lord to accept us into his Kingdom, we need to be renewing our minds towards that goal. The Phillips translation of this passage is helpful: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold but let God remold your mind from within.” We must resist the squeezing influences of the world around us, a world that is intent on shaping our thinking to the popular mold, by allowing God to remold us from within by filling our mind with His word.
If we wake up in the morning to a clock radio, even before we are fully awake we are bombarded with advice about what to think, what to buy and where to go. Throughout the day, television, newspapers, the internet, and billboards all are trying to grab our attention. None of these influences builds us up spiritually. We need to change our routine right from the start, to begin our day with God, so we are more conscious of God’s ways all day. We are more likely to find opportunities to think godly thoughts and to behave in a godly manner during the day if we put God’s thinking at the forefront of our mind.
If we do not have a plan towards godly thinking, we will naturally drift into the world’s way of thinking because it is right there, pushing its way into our thoughts.
There are important consequences, as Paul explains, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Paul is very blunt — the alternative to godly thinking is death. We need to pay serious attention. Paul goes on to elaborate, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Paul makes it plain — if we think only fleshly thoughts we cannot please God. However, Paul does not stop there, because if we are believers, we should be think- ing and acting differently: for God’s hand is in our lives. Paul reassures us, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” What Paul is not saying is that we have the Holy Spirit gifts and do miracles or speak in tongues, for none of us do, and neither did those in the Roman ecclesia to which he was writing. What he means is that we believers need to get the Spirit of God inside of us which will help us to think spiritually in godly ways. We can all be in the Spirit every day if we keep our minds centered on God’s word.
To be truly converted, we need to change, and it is not easy. As John Maxwell advises, to change we must develop habits that become part of the routine that we practice every day. We need to develop habits of godly thinking. There are so many ways that the world intrudes into our private lives trying to squeeze us into its mold, that it is imperative that we fight back by consciously bringing God into our think- ing. Rather than allowing the radio or television or the internet or even the printed word and pictures to consume our time and attention, let us devote our attention every single day to reading God’s book, our Bibles, to fervent prayer to our Heav- enly Father, and to thinking about and doing good for some of His other children. Let us each fill every day doing those things that please the Lord so that he will be pleased to say to us when he comes, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Robert J. Lloyd