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Gateway to the Heart: A Transformed Mind – Part 3

Transformation through Offending Our Mind

With this in mind, I would suggest that Jesus knew that one possible solution to having the scribes/Pharisees realign their ideological systems of the Kingdom would be to graciously offend them into a confrontation of their thinking… actually to enter into their roadways or limestone quarries they had created. Indeed, the words and deeds of Jesus might be setting up jackhammer experiences on some of the hard, immovable places of our ideology and mind in order for us to be unchained by some of our own futile thinking. I am by no means suggesting that we would employ manipulation, abusive words, or spiritual bullying as tactics to employ the removal of false, un-Christ-like frameworks.

Nevertheless, as the oft-quoted Henry Cloud states, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” Sometimes the offense of the mind through the gracious demonstration of agape love is ironically just the pain catalyst we need for change. The opposite of love is not hate but rather indifference. An indifferent mind is another topic, but a mind still connected to an emotive response to the confrontation of unconditional love creates a light of hope that might seem possible to be reached.

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” – Henry Cloud

Tony Baron suggests that Jesus’ game plan for the Kingdom had three significant parts: 1) Jesus inspired others by modeling God’s kingdom; 2)Jesus equipped others by teaching about the source of connection to God’s kingdom; and 3) Jesus encouraged others by sending His followers to model and teach about God’s kingdom.[1] Baron goes on to state that Jesus was intentional in choosing this model by demonstrating relationship power over institutional power. Baron defines institutional power as preserving the current organizational and system structure, resulting in restricted relational power that seeks to imitate Jesus’ model of the Kingdom task.[2] Jesus models to us the need to confront the mind by choosing relational power (demonstrations of agape love) in order to be realigned with the ideologies of the Kingdom before even entering into a dialogue about the heart. In offending the mind with relational power towards ideological confrontation, Jesus chooses the highest good in the moment. Jesus’ Kingdom priority is to heal, deliver, forgive, and set free over the demands of outward self-righteousness.

The relational choice of power Jesus used as evidence of the Kingdom being inaugurated often resulted in observers either being amazed or offended (Matthew 11:4-6; John 6:60-69). For example, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is in His hometown where they are at first amazed at His teaching, but then their minds cannot comprehend that a carpenter’s son may actually be what He proclaims to be (Mark 6:1-6). It does not fit into their ideological, imaginative thought life of what the Kingdom should look like. But we get a solemn warning in this passage when Mark chooses the phrase “took offense,” which translates from the Greek word skandalizō (σκανδαλίζω), where our English word scandalizes is derived.[1] The word’s actual meaning comes from the picture of a hunting trap baited with a stick. When the bait is taken, the stick falls, and the trap springs. So the word came to mean “closed in” or “trapped,” an obstacle that causes one to fall, spiritually or morally, to suffer injury or to be hurt, a cause broken trust, to wound with words or actions, to violate, a stumbling block, and an offense.

Soberly, when used in the New Testament, this word is often used as an obstacle in coming to faith and a cause for going astray.[1] It is often true that things that offend us are typically things that we don’t understand or can’t wrap our minds around. Offense — what we can’t get our ideologies to submit to — can be one of our largest obstacles in faith or cause for abandoning of our faith. Jesus was doing and saying things constantly that they (Pharisees/scribes/disciples) and we today resist or can’t wrap our minds around.

However, I believe Jesus offended a belief system to produce a new level of faith. His goal for us wasn’t to abandon or go astray but rather to be found and led more perfectly in our faith. Black illustrates this point by stating the differences between belief and faith.[4] By way of analogy, Black described the idea of our belief as a chair’s capacity to hold us while seated. True belief must be acted upon by actually sitting in the chair. Belief experienced in knowledge results in a shift in the belief system (ideas, thoughts, images) to form an actual faith that the next chair one encounters will prove stable.

Faith is the result when the accuracy of our previous experience that forms knowledge is projected into the future.  Jesus offends the mind (our belief system) by demonstrating an experience of knowledge that shifts our profession to practice (modeling) our faith and radically engages a vision of what could be if our faith is lived out through Him. This is what Dallas Willard refers to in his VIM model (Vision-Intention-Means) relating to the idea of vision:

Vision: To progress in spiritual formation we need to be ravished by a vision of life in the Kingdom of God through reliance upon Jesus.[5Dallas Willard]

It is my suggestion that the root of the mind being challenged or offended by the principles and practices of the Kingdom (as demonstrated and offered to us by Jesus) is a decision of whom you will trust or whom you will move your belief to faith in. In other words, whose vision of life will you be ravished by? Will you be ravished by your own construct of mind or His? We may need to radically shift to a position of trust (faith) that the One who holds the universe in His hand may be willing to offend our mind — the last bastion and limestone quarry of our self-reliance and self-dependence — in order for our heart to be shifted into deeper soil. We also need to relearn and realign whom we are called to rely upon and learn from to bear fruit and glorify Him (John 15).

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9

At first glance, we may read Isaiah 58:8-9 and settle for the fact that our minds will never be aligned with God’s. However, another way to look at it is to see that our natural thoughts (beliefs) will never align with God’s mind if we don’t daily make a holy exchange to begin thinking as God thinks through knowledge and faith. Philippians goes on to advise us: ‘Have this mind (phrŏnĕō), among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus’ (2:5, RSV). Our goal should be to exercise our minds to engage in our faith to invite Christ’s character and life to dwell in us (Romans 8:5-6, 12:1-2; Colossians 3:1-3).

God, in His amazing grace, gives us the ability to have a mind that aligns with His mind. In his book, Preparing for Heaven, Gary Black Jr. insightfully helps us with this task when he states the following:

This is why we have to develop a new schema, a new framework of understanding, perceiving, and living. This is what repentance (in Greek, metanoia) requires— rethinking our thinking, re-planning our plans, and re-visioning our visions. [6] Gary Black Jr.

The above quote suggests a new framework or understanding through repentance for the mind to embrace this new order of thinking. In order for the heart to be transformed, the mind must rethink its position. Black suggested that repentance invokes in us an intentional humility when he said:

This intentional humility is where we no longer have confidence in a method, philosophy, or imagining that is outside of the pursuit of Christ-likeness. Rather Christ-likeness of the mind requires an act of the will to place the ideas, thoughts, images, and patterns of the mind before Christ to be judged, weighed, measured, and corrected as necessary. This is Philippians 4:8 (whatever is true, noble, right, pure… think on these things). Such intentionality must encompass every aspect of life that the mind falls upon. 2 Cor. 10:3-5 where we wage war not on the flesh but on strongholds, which are arguments and opinions raised against the knowledge of God. This is not behavior modification but about changing ideological positions based on training. This is our goal: We must seek willful transformation.[7]  

A limestone quarry does not become Butchart Gardens without a vision of a better and preferred future. Jesus reminds us of the challenges our minds present, our own limestone quarry, as demonstrated in the confrontation of the religious leaders of his day.

Nevertheless, the potential of a preferred future through the intentional humility of allowing our minds to be transformed is His goal. The question before us is, “Will it be our goal?” Before the sower (Jesus) sows His seed (Kingdom) into our hearts, He is willing to work through the quarry of the mind to help us intentionally submit to His grace and hope. Jesus desires to recreate in us a garden that we dwell together in, enjoy and give witness to His goodness. It starts with the hard work of breaking through the quarries of our minds that hold tightly to strongholds and opinions.

Nevertheless, He sees the hope of a garden in us and desires that we partner in work with Him to be transformed.  That is the invitation that I believe Dallas Willard encourages us to in the following: Yet, in the gloom, a light glimmers and glows. We have received an invitation. We are invited to make a pilgrimage— into the heart and life of God.[8]

And that pilgrimage often starts in the limestone quarries of our mind.  I am grateful that in my mind and heart, a glimmer of a garden is seen. Let the excavating begin!

[1] Tony Baron, The Cross and the Towel: Leading to a Higher Calling (Tucson, AZ: Wheatmark, 2011). 62.

[2] Ibid., 59, 61.

[3]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9. Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 7:345.

[4] Black, Lecture.

[5] “Dallas Willard’s Definitions, Soul Shepherding: For You and Your Ministry, January 1, 2013; accessed 2016.

[6] Gary Black. Jr., Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life Kindle ed. (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2015). 115-116.

[7] Black, Lecture.

[8] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (New York, New York: Harper Collins, 2009). 17.


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