RENEWING OUR MINDS
RENEWING OUR MINDS
By Melissa Carlisle | LPC, NCC
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1–2 ESV
Over the last three years, I have become increasingly fascinated with the primary truth of scripture and some of the secondary truths found by science and psychology on the importance of healthy minds. Scripture has so much to say about transforming and maintaining healthy, spirit-filled minds. Science is also catching up with research and technology that can help us understand how intricately God created our minds, and how the effects of sin can cause devastating problems.
Some leading researchers in the field of neurotheology (neuro: brain, theology: study of the concepts of God) have found some interesting concepts on spiritual formation to consider. Tim Jennings is a Christian psychiatrist and has written several books, one of which is titled, The God Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life.
Jennings did a study and found a particular grouping of theological beliefs of the participants that were absolutely detrimental to their health. This particular group described God as this vengeful, wrathful character who authoritatively watched them, waited for them to mess up, and then sent them straight to hell for even the slightest mishap. After conducting surveys, interviews, and even brain scans, Jennings found that these participants had harmful amounts of stress hormones in their brains. This caused severe disruptions of mental, physical, spiritual, and relational health.
This inaccurate view of God was then linked to their anxiety, depression, dysfunctional relationships, resentment toward God, and even physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, and chronic pain. Now, certainly, I do not mean to imply that when we encounter these things that we should feel ashamed because our view of God is off, but I do mean to imply that healthy spirituality and healthy minds are delicately and purposefully intertwined.
Scripture gives us warning that we live in a broken and sinful world. Sin has damaging effects on us spiritually, physically, mentally, and relationally. Scripture also gives us a hope that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Some ways that we can renew our minds include:
Treating our physical bodies as the temple and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Not forsaking the fellowship of other believers and having healthy interpersonal relationships (Hebrews 10:25)
Can you think of others?
Scientific research also asserts some of these same things. You've heard it, right? Eat well! Exercise! Think positive thoughts! Don't forget that genuine truth belongs to the Lord, and science can be a secondary source of truth that helps us better understand God's creation.
So back to the heart of the matter: How can we be transformed with renewed minds to view God in a healthy way, all while experiencing healthy well-being? First and foremost, let us explore our view of God. Let us “Seek first His kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) I truly believe “all these things” includes physical, spiritual, mental, and relational well-being, among other things.
I urge us, co-laborers, not only to promote well-being among those we minister to, but to also prioritize that journey ourselves.