Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Part 4: The principles of the Kingdom of God are very different to the principles of the kingdoms of this world. It is as though unregenerate people are, in a spiritual sense, walking on the ceiling. A way of understanding our inverted inner and outer worlds is in terms of mindset. A mindset is a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how we interpret and respond to situations. We start to form our mindsets when we are born, or perhaps in the months just preceding our birth and we lock them in at around twenty years of age. Using the previous analogy (see this blog post) , we build our mindsets by observing a world inverted by our inbuilt contact lenses. We should not be surprised, then, to find that our ‘natural’ mindsets are intensely materialistic. We build them from what we already know and have experienced. For most people this is almost entirely materialistic rather than spiritual. Once we have built this citadel of the mind, it is very hard to breach it. Our reality is secure behind its walls, and we will summarily reject anything that does not fit through its carefully crafted gates. In other words, we become relatively immune to new ideas and experiences.
There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, which wonderfully illustrates the defensive power of a mindset. Apparently, when the conquistadores arrived on the coast of Central America, the Incas could not see their ships. These local people had never seen a sailing ship before, they had no language to describe a sailing ship, and they were not expecting sailing ships. So they just didn’t ‘see’ them.
The Incas couldn’t ‘see’ the ships
The conquistadores appeared to march out of the sea like the demigods of Inca legends. The local high priest was the most educated of them all, and he sensed that all was not as it seemed to be. He noticed that there were strange currents and wavelets just off shore, which had not been there before. He pondered this and spent considerable time looking out to sea and trying to find the reason for these phenomena. Then one day he suddenly saw the ships which were causing these abnormal motions in the water. He explained what he saw to his fellow Incas, and pointed out to them the exact places where the ships were. After a while, they too were able to see the ships. The sailing vessels were there all the time, but the Inca mindset had effectively eliminated them from perceived reality!
We need to ask big questions in order to break open the fortress of our materialistic mindsets, and we need to seek persistently for answers until enlightenment occurs. Questions are like battering rams at the walls of our mindsets. If we keep pounding with them, then eventually the wall crumbles at that spot, and we are able to take in new ideas and experience a new reality. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Another way into the walled city of our mind is through the gates. We can stand at the gate, so to speak, and then ask God to send in a cart full of revelation. In practical terms, this ‘standing at the gate’ consists of being ‘open’ to divine revelation. As Christians, we achieve this by studying and meditating on the scriptures, by praying, and by exposing ourselves to the biblically described ‘gifts of the Spirit’. However, openness to divine revelation usually includes persistent questioning. As we read the Bible, we ask the Lord, ‘Have I understood this correctly? Is this what you meant Lord Jesus? Would I see this differently through your eyes?’ As we ask these questions, and as we expect to receive answers, then Paul’s prayer is realised: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)
So, not only do we need to change our orientation, but we also need to assault our fortified mindsets by repeatedly asking questions. This is a little scary for many people. For others, this requires more mental energy than they are prepared to expend. However, if we are going to progress, then we need to make the effort and ask brave questions.
In this series, I ask some big questions and, although I suggest some answers, it is up to you to find the explanations that will change your mindset. To subscribe to Truth is The Word, click here.