Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age, Part 2Romans 12:1-2Theme: The Christian doctrine of man.This week’s lessons teach us what it means to be made in God’s image. LessonRenewing our minds begins with understanding and applying the great Christian doctrines, and thus far we have at least touched on four of them: the doctrines of God, revelation, man, and the fall. These doctrines are not exhaustive, but they are important as well as being a proper starting place for our thinking if we are serious about what Paul is urging upon us in our text from Romans: “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
But I need to mention one other doctrine without which nothing we’ve studied in the past two weeks would be complete, the doctrine of redemption.
The doctrine of redemption – the fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16) – infinitely intensifies man’s value, because it teaches that even in his fallen state, a condition in which he hates God and kills his fellow creatures, man is still so valuable to God that God planned for and carried out the death of his own precious Son to save him.
At the same time, the doctrine of redemption teaches that man’s state is indescribably dreadful, because it took nothing less than the death of the very Son of God to accomplish it.
I want to close by referring to “The Weight of Glory,” an essay by C. S. Lewis.1 He begins by probing for the meaning of glory, recognizing that it is something of the very essence of God which we desire. It is something “no natural happiness will satisfy.”2 At the same time it is also something from which we, in our sinful state, have been shut out. We want it. We sense that we are destined for it. But glory is beyond us – apart from what God has done to save us and make us like himself.
At the end of the essay, Lewis applies this to how we should learn to think about other people. We should understand that they are either going to be brought into glory, which is a supreme and indescribable blessing, or else they are going to be shut out from it – forever. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.3
What Lewis was doing in that essay was helping us to develop a Christian mind about other people, and his bottom line was that we will treat others better if we learn to think of them in these terms.
1 C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company/Collier Books, 1980).2 C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” p. 8.3 C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” pp. 18-19.
How does the doctrine of redemption intensify man’s value?
How do we begin renewing our minds?
How does the doctrine of God help you to think Christianly? the doctrine of revelation? of man? the fall? redemption?
PrayerOur Father, we thank you for this teaching from your Word. We recognize that when we try to think your thoughts after you, and think as you would have us think, we always stand at the beginning of what is going to be an eternal process. But it’s important that we do stand at the beginning and start, and that’s what we want to do. So in this area of a Christian doctrine of man, grant that we might not be like the world around us, which sounds so fine but is actually debasing and destroying human beings. Instead, help us to see those about us and ourselves as creatures made for everlasting fellowship with yourself which, if we attain, is the greatest of all glories and blessings but, if we miss, is the greatest and most tragic of all losses. Help us to approach other people in that way to bring them to the knowledge of salvation in Jesus Christ, and help us to live also as those who know him. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.