Today’s meditation is on changing our lives by changing our thinking.
So, just before Jesus bursts on the scene in the Gospel of Matthew
The no-nonsense, utterly serious John the Baptist
Comes with an utterly serious message, Repent
In the Greek, metanoeite,
for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
The Kingdom of Heaven? A new era in history
Has begun: The era of Jesus,
When ordinary, heavy-laden frazzled people can, just like that,
Squeeze through a narrow gate into an inner new world,
The invisible but real Kingdom, described by the Apostle Paul
as righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Who would not want this?
What is this narrow door into a bigger, happier life?
It is to repent, in Greek metanoéō. From meta, change, nous, mind
Repenting literally means to change one’s mind, to think differently
And that is the way any real change begins in our lives.
We change how we think about things.
We are “transformed by the renewing of our minds,”
In Paul’s lovely phrase in his letter to the Romans.
It is all gain; it is, seriously, a wiser, better life,
To cultivate what the Apostle Paul calls
“The mind of Christ” as we consider the issues of our lives
(And it’s common sense to cultivate the mind of Christ
Because Christ’s mind is far cleverer, more incisive,
More original and startling than ours could ever be.)
Metanoia, repentance, thinking differently
Can mean mentally seeing Christ standing between us
and the questions, puzzles and uncertainties in our lives.
We see the problem we face bathed in the golden light of Christ,
And we ask him to show us what he thinks about it.
For instance: to take an issue which obsesses many people today:
Conforming to a socially-enviable body shape
Can consume much mental, emotional and physical energy.
But God created both hippopotamuses and cheetahs.
His delight in us, his amusement as he sees us,
Is not dependent on whether our BMI is 18, 25 or 30,
Whether our dress size is 2 or 14. God who made our bodies
Loves and values them more than we do,
Just like as the author of the book loves it more
than the one who bought a copy.
God, who made us, thinks we are fabulous.
So rest in his love.
And so metanoia, a new mind, thinking differently, repentance
Means rejecting vanity-based worries about appearance
While realising, that, of course, God does want us
To do everything we can do
To have a strong, flexible and healthy body,
So as to have the strength and energy
To do the unique work He has called us to do,
For as long as we live on this earth.
So rather than being a reed swaying in the wind
Of the latest dietary pronouncements of the latest self-promoting guru,
Metanoeite, think differently:
Change your mind for the mind of Christ
Put your body, your health and your lifespan
Into God’s hands, and ask him,
And then trust him to guide you beyond
The latest pundit’s latest Noes, Noes
To eat blessing,
To eat the food which will be a blessing
To your individual and unique body, rather than a curse to it.
Jesus says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Metanoia, having a new mind, thinking differently, could mean
Asking the Spirit,
Whom Jesus says will teach us all things
To show us the light and easy way
To build joyful movement into our lives
Creating a body that will remain flexible and strong
For the rest of our lives. We must ask Jesus
Who promises us joy to teach us the right,
Most energising movement for us, say, yoga for flexibility,
or hefting weights for strength, or long-distance walking or running,
Flooding the mind with serotonin, and dopamine,
and slowly changing the deep structure of our brains.
We might also ask the Spirit to show us how to get strong and muscly
in a way consistent with love, perhaps incorporating vigorous housework
and gardening into our routines, as well as long walks with family and friends.
Being mindful that Jesus said that those who will not
Deny themselves and take up their cross are not worthy of him.
We remember that Christ says that his future disciples
will fast, and even promises us a reward for it.
(A reward from God!! Wow!)
Fasting, for the right periods of time for each of us,
blesses an overtaxed, overweight body,
and saves both time and money. Far better
than wasting brain space and emotional energy
In dietary obsessions.
And, as we take on the challenges life throws at us,
Like changing our bodies, if need be,
Changing our houses if decluttering or organizing is needed
Or waking earlier as the Spirit leads
We remain aware that we have a tender father looking at us,
Aware that to him we are as beloved toddlers are to a good human parent
Aware that he is a wonderful God
A compassionate and gracious God,
Slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
As He described himself in his self-revelation to Moses in the Book of Exodus.
Oh God of resurrection, who brings dead things to life
Who can do more in a few minutes of good ideas and multiplication
Than we could in years, we put into your hands,
Our perplexities and ask you for wisdom,
We give you our questions, and ask for your answers.
We love you. Increase our love,
We will trust you. Increase our trust.
This meditation is on Matthew 3:2
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