“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:11)
Did you know that I don’t know what you’re thinking? I can’t read your mind. This is a deep and weighty subject best left to professionals. But as we all possess minds–minds we all use to a lesser or greater degree–we should be ready to offer our two cents on the matter. So, what do you think?
Before I begin, I don’t know if I should have to quote chapter and verse in order to get my point across. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m going to. Only because the Bible is the rubric from which I’ve built (or at least sought to, heretofore–I’m not done) up my thought processes. But clear thinking is an eminently human trait and a desirable one at that. I find the Beatitudes to be an exemplary way of living one’s life in the world at large. To know that there is dignity in suffering and that not only can I not control certain things (such as suffering), but that I can also do other things to either allay or prevent the unnecessary kind. With reference to the whole mind-reading thing, did you know that it’s really hard to spot a suffering individual? I would say that unless you’ve done the time, you won’t be aware when the person next to you needs some encouragement. The signs are so subtle and so fleeting that even spouses express shock and dismay at the state of things in their partner’s head and heart. Sometimes, after the fact.
We are not a superorganism. A school of fish is, yes. But we as humans were not created to share in a hivemind or communal system of thought that erases our individuality. The closest thing–that’s actually leagues apart–is the Holy Spirit who we all must seek to interact with independent of one another even as we live as the Body of Christ.
In the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew, chapter 5), Jesus, in listing the several things for which one is “blessed”, proffers some counterintuitives. The “poor in spirit”, the “mourners”, the “meek”. And this one that I really love (or hate, sometimes): “they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. All these states, says Jesus, are the exact opposite of their Heavenly reward. He says the poor are rich. The mourners will be comforted. And the meek will get it all. But He lingers a bit on the last one.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (5:11-12)
Jesus says, “for my sake”. If we don’t realize that we represent Him, we are losing in the arena. Real quick, I don’t know fully what Heavenly rewards look like. It’s good to know it’s waiting but if I find myself going through the aforementioned, the best consolation I have is the knowledge that God is getting something done and using me to do it. The business of Heaven can be a messy one because it necessarily involves jarring people (even Christians) out of their comfort zones. So if you find yourself, as Jesus just mentioned (because the Sermon on the Mount took place last week) being thought of incorrectly, to put it politely, then take heart in the fact that God is, as my dad would say, “redecorating hell”.
Like cats and dogs
“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1 Peter 2:20)
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:35-36)
And this is how all this ties together. God, as mentioned above (“after ye have done the will of God…”) has things he needs done. In your life, in mine. In your world and ours. Things that require heartache and pain and suffering in order to affect the hard hearts of those God loves and wants to love (the Beatitudes are simple statements that begin to glow white-hot when you’re in the middle of God’s will for your life). And all throughout, until the air clears and the truth is revealed, you may have to slog your way through, not only being misunderstood (people think they know you and what you’re thinking–they don’t) but also misunderstanding God (everyone’s guilty of this). As an aside, I have a tuxedo cat named Fiona. She’s a sweetheart. The concept of the “familiar” or “familiar spirit” comes from occult practices where a witch or other practitioner would keep an animal (like a cat) around to assist in the working of spells and other such abominations. Now, reason I bring this up here is because a lot of the dizziness and confusion surrounding spiritual warfare happens as a result of “familiar spirits”. And if you believe in God, you have to know that there’s other stuff out there, too. It’s all very real I assure you. So next time you can’t think straight, you might just pray against anything supernaturally untoward in whatever way the Holy (Holy) Spirit intimates to you. Add that piece of information to your prayer list. It just might be the key that God needs to hear to clear the air. You’ll accomplish what God had put before you for you to do for Him and all will be well. You’ll be, as Jesus says, “blessed”.
There aren’t any cats in the Bible. But Fiona’s cool, I assure you.