Friday, July 9, 2010

Wholesome Thinking – 2 Peter 3:1-2

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (NIV)

What kind of thinking is wholesome? Obviously, Peter believed that God’s Word as it has been given to us in the Bible could stimulate wholesome thinking. He included the Old Testament and the New by mentioning both the prophet and the apostles. In verse 16, he also includes Paul as he calls Paul’s writings scripture.

Wholesome thinking is not easy. Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (RSV) I firmly believe that this verse is a key to transforming our minds from impurity, hate, unforgiveness, and many other things that bog us down with unwholesome thinking. Unwholesome thinking bogs us down in and prevent us from having peace. When we replace these evil thoughts with the ones Paul lists, we are able to transform our minds.

However, Peter had more in mind than just thinking good thoughts since he continued on to talk about end times and how we should live in light of what God has revealed. Wholesome thinking in this case is developing a worldview that looks at all the circumstances surrounding us and then deciding on a Christian response. So we need to take the things from Phil 4:8 and apply them. For instance, Paul says, “Whatever is just and gracious.” How do we mix justice and grace together? Jesus did it by dying for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves not only to see justice done but also to extend grace? For example, wow do we in the U.S. maintain justice with illegal immigrants and also offer grace? All I hear from the conservative right is a cry for justice that equates to carrying out the letter of the law (deportation, imprisonment, denying medical treatment) without any consideration for the fact that human beings are suffering or in need. Doesn’t wholesome thinking include Jesus’ words? Matt 25:40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” (NIV)

Take taxation as another circumstance that we all face. How does wholesome thinking apply to the way our government taxes us and provides services with those taxes? Should our response be to constantly vote against taxes? Should we criticize our politicians because they have voted for taxes? Perhaps we should consider that schools, highways, police forces, fire protection and many more blessings are provided by taxation before we demand that taxes be lowered. If we pushed tax reductions to the limits, who would provide for these services? What happened to Rom 13:6-7? This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (NIV)

We have become a society that demands our rights. Our thinking has been so saturated with this concept that we believe anything and everything is a right. Is this wholesome thinking? Is demanding our rights looking at the world with a Christian attitude? Where would we be if Jesus decided His rights were more important than saving us? Matt 5:40-41 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (NIV) That is radical thinking. It is thinking that puts the rights of other above our own rights. Dare I say it is wholesome thinking?

Personally, I have a hard time getting my mind around it all. When I read the Sermon on the Mount in Matt 5, there is so much there that just doesn’t make human sense. And that is just the point. It isn’t human sense; it is divine sense. If I want to be more like Jesus, then I have to be less like the world. I have to have an eternal perspective while my feet are stuck in the mud of this world. I’m nowhere near where I should be, but I hope to get further. Phil 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (NIV) I would like to be like Paul, but I can’t even say I’m straining toward the goal and pressing on. I’m plodding along. I would like to say that I have more answers but instead, I have more questions.

How about you? Are you straining toward the goal? Are you thinking wholesomely or worldly? Are you letting the Word of God transform your thinking and following it up with action in accordance to His Word or are you letting the conservative right or liberal left formulate your thinking and action? I certainly hope and pray that we all can respond the way Jesus wants.

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