Sunday October 3, 2004 | Greg Boyd
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Willing just one thing, the love of God, is our only task. Our hearts are pure and our minds are sound when we overcome the double-mindedness that we unconsciously live in by submitting to God (James 4:7). Greg called our attention to how our minds are caught up in routines that produce behavior that is harmful to ourselves and others. Working toward kingdom single mindedness moment by moment will focus our energy where it should be: on the love of God for us and on loving ourselves and others because of it.
Greg opened this message with two passages from James (1:6-8 and 4:7-8) and a quote from Kierkegaard, “The purity of heart is to will one thing.” All three thoughts focus on overcoming “double-mindedness.” This is simply to say that willing one thing, the love of God, is our only task. Our hearts are pure and our minds are sound when we will one thing. But not just any “one thing” will do. There is only one thing we can will that truly overcomes double-mindedness and that is submission to God (James 4:7). This can be described in many ways: loving God, willing the good, imitating Christ, having the mind of Christ, walking in the Spirit, seeking first the Kingdom of God, place love above all other concerns, etc.
The video illustration from the movie “Zoolander” showed a character whose mind was deeply divided. At one moment he was a model strutting down the runway but under certain conditions, in this case when he heard the song “Relax,” he became an entirely different person with a mission to kill a foreign dignitary. Greg’s point was that we all behave something like this, though it many not be as obvious. We all have learned to respond in unhealthy ways to certain circumstances. Our minds simply go through routines that produce behavior that is harmful to ourselves and others. Some experience uncontrollable rage, others self-hatred, but even in less dramatic circumstances, we play roles that are not really our true reality in Christ. Greg’s example of how he changes his behavior and even his personality around his family of origin is a good example of this. When circumstances distract us from willing one thing, obedience to God, then we have lost the “mind of Christ.” We have become double-minded. Spiritually speaking, we have become insane. To have a divided mind is a mental disease, and to have this same disease with regard to your relationship to God is no better. So what are we to do?
Stay awake! Consider the many times that the Bible reminds us to stay awake! (See list below.) Don’t distract yourself from life and what God is doing. Find ways to remind yourself of the call to will one thing. This may seem strange to those of us who have been a Christian for a long time, but we really do need constant reminding that God really does exist! Not as an idea that makes sense of reality, but that God is really truly alive and well and you are in God’s presence right now. It is this reality that is so difficult to stay awake to! It is difficult partly because this reality is so persistent, so stable, that we take it for granted. Some many other things call our attention away from this one true reality that deserves our undivided mind and attention. It is for this reason that Christians throughout the centuries have practiced the discipline of solitude! When you are alone and strategic about eliminating the distractions of life, you can refocus on what’s most important. The goal is to maintain this focus even as we go back into our chaotic world.
Being awake and having the mind of Christ is not something we receive and simply have from that day forward. It must be maintained continuously. It is like the breath of our spirit. Just as our body must have air now, and now, and again in the next moment, and it must get it by breathing, so also our spirit must breath and the air we breath is the love and life of God! This is not a matter of information but conscious awareness and engagement with God. Every moment we are invited to dance with God and we must continually choose to participate, just as a physical dance requires continual attention, intention and energy.