Do you know your stuff? Do you know how it works? I know a few things about my phone, this ridiculously powerful device that I spend half the day sitting on, but I don't have a grasp on 90% of the capabilities I have at my fingertips. I'm okay with that most of the time.
The problem comes when it stops working.
You see, I could avoid major malfunctions by knowing at least 10% more about what this little tech-beast can do but I don't.
Most problems in our lives, way beyond our technology, come because we don't know how our stuff works.
We don't know how our relationships are working or how they should work.
We don't know how our body is functioning or how it should function.
We don't know where our motivations are coming from or how they are changed.
We don't know that our emotions come from our brains, not our heads, and therefore we feel helpless to change them.
One of the most helpful things we can learn about our life is how transformation into Christlikeness depends on the raw materials that are already there. God doesn't supernaturally reprogram us in one shot, no, instead there is a process of learning and growing that is staged in the mysterious and powerful land called the human personality.
In other words, we want God to change us. Transform us. Renew us. He is happy to do that, but He's going to do it using our body and everything in it.
So how does this stuff work? Here's a quick run down of the three major places God works:
1. Our mind.
Our thoughts, emotions, and ways of receiving and processing the world happen in our brain - which contains our mind. Your mind is powerful - it can either be powerful for destruction or powerful for formation but that depends largely on what we do with it. Paul says in Romans 12:2, "...be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Why would he say that? I believe he said it because he knew a bit about how we work. Our brain is where our relationship with God begins because it is the starting point of seeing God in everyday life. So when we read and memorize Scripture, we aren't doing it to earn points but instead to reprogram the very powerful idea and emotion center of the human body.
2. Our heart.
The heart has just as powerful a role as the mind, but it takes its cues from what we think. Our brain tells us something about the world, and our heart forms motivations related to that idea. If you know you are deathly allergic to bees, your heart will form motivations to avoid bees at every cost and will help you be motivated to pack medication for every outdoor trip. Our heart and its motivations have to be trained, and disciplines like fasting train our motivations - specifically, fasting trains us to not have to have whatever we want when we want it. We are then free from destructive motivations and can choose ones that give life.
3. Our hands.
Last but not least, our hands carry out the work of the mind and the heart. Ideas turn to motivation and motivation turns to action that we carry out with our body. If our mind believes you can get the flu from touching handrails, and we become motivated to avoid that at every cost, then we'll take action after touching a handrail to spray down with sanitizer or wash our hands. We know that we do some destructive stuff with our hands, but when we begin to put our mind and heart on the right track we are also capable of great goodness. Playing it out, when we read Jesus teaching that we should "love one another" (into our mind) and we become motivated to do what Jesus invites us to do (heart) then we act on it (hands) in a way that shows love and grace to our neighbors.
Knowing how our stuff works means the difference between being religious and being a disciple. Knowing how our stuff works means the difference between information and transformation. Knowing how our stuff works means the difference between simply surviving and truly thriving.
So how is your stuff working these days?