13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. I Corinthians 2:13-16, ESV
The most ironic aspect of being created in the image of God is the ability to make choices and understand them. It is the one thing that makes it possible for us to become Christ followers and spiritual beings who walk with God and at the same time, it is the one thing that also makes it possible for us to resist God and choose our own path. The temptation to rely on our own strength, and solve our own problems out of our own ability to reason is, perhaps, the strongest temptation that we face. We think of it as the easiest solution, and we also celebrate the sense of accomplishment that comes when we feel we have solved the problem. How can that be wrong?
We have many terms, and many ways of describing experiences which go beyond the ability of human reason to comprehend. For some, it is a spiritual “breakthrough.” Some call it “epiphany.” My Pentecostal friends refer to the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” or a “second blessing.” It is a moment, or an experience, through which we discover that God is really God, that the Holy Spirit is really there, and that faith not only matters, but it really works. And in that moment, perhaps brief and fleeting, we get a glimpse of the truth. Human wisdom and reason is inferior to spiritual wisdom that comes from the mind of Christ, which we can know via the Holy Spirit through our faith.
So, if we have the scriptures, and from them we can discern the truth with the “mind of Christ,” as Paul describes it in the passage quoted above, why are such experiences so rare among God’s people today? We spend a lot of time studying and trying to figure out what God wants us to know from these ancient words left behind from the rich deposit of the apostolic era of the church. Most of our study of the scriptures, and the subsequent application of them, involves human reasoning of some kind. From literalists who take a word by word, verse by verse approach to the academics who insist that the text isn’t completely reliable, to the mystics who look for hidden meaning and messages, we just can’t seem to resist the temptation to try to figure things out for ourselves. And while we are busy trying to make it all fit into the way we like to do our thinking, the very mind of Christ himself, and thus the key to complete understanding of the scriptures and to the movement of the Holy Spirit, is available to us. Perhaps that is why such moments are so rare.
Sometimes God puts us in a position where we must completely depend on the Holy Spirit for all the wisdom, knowledge and strength we need. We must be lifted out of our comfort zone, and placed in a position where dependence on the Spirit is the only solution to the problem that we face. Sometimes, it requires shouldering the burden of the difficulties and suffering of other people, since we have the resources to provide for our own comfort. That requires the mind of Christ, too, because the only way we can be put in that position is to have the kind of genuine love for all people that God does, and that is impossible if human reason is our only authority.
Thank you, God, for putting me in a place this week where I could not succeed apart from total reliance on the Holy Spirit.