I once heard the story that some scientists did an experiment with some fish. They took a predator fish and its prey and put them in the same tank. The predator ate the prey. The scientist then placed a piece of glass in the middle dividing the aquarium. They placed the prey on the other side of the glass. They predator repeatedly attacked, but kept hitting the glass. Each day it tried fewer and fewer times to go after the prey. When it quit trying, they removed the glass. They prey fish swam all over, but the predator never went after them. Whether the study is true or not, I don’t know, but the conditions of the mind is true.
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (NLT). You and I are raised and live in a society that lives in opposition to God’s way of living. Our minds are like the predator fish. We’ve been conditioned with the mindset of this world and its values. We are in need of transformation and renewal of our minds so that we can live the way God called us to live, which starts by changing how we think. Our thoughts direct our behavior, as referenced by the predator. God wants to continually transform us through our mindset.
1 Corinthians 7:23 says, “Since a great price was paid for your redemption, stop having the mind-set of a slave” (TPT). Once we receive Christ, we are set free from being slaves to sin and our fallen way of thinking and living. Even though we are free, we will have to continually fight against the glass in the tank mentality. That’s why we need God to renew our minds and our way of thinking. We often fall short of who He created us to be because we live with our old mindset. Pray today that God would transform your mind and way of thinking so that you can live the life you were created to live. Remember Galatians 5:1: “Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again” (GNT).
My favorite Disney movie in the 90’s was “The Lion King”. Every time I watch it, there’s a scene that gets me. Rafiki finds Simba and tells him that he knows who he is. He then tells him that his father is alive and wants to show him. He leads Simba to a creek and has him look at his own reflection. When Simba tells him that it’s just him, Rafiki replies, “Look harder.” When Simba looks past the surface, he sees his father’s reflection in himself. Mutasa then appears in the clouds and tells Simba, “You have forgotten who you are… You are more than what you have become… Remember who you are.” With this, Simba decides to confront his past and to return to who he was meant to be. Once he made the choice to quit identifying with the easy personality that Timon and Pumba offered, and chose to identify with his father’s identity, he was able to be who he was born to be.
In Matthew 5, Jesus was preaching “The Sermon on the Mount” as we call it. He started off with The Beattitudes, and continued clarifying The Law from God’s perspective. It’s a pretty tough sermon to hear, but it’s meant to remind us that God’s desire wasn’t to give us a bunch of regulations to control how we lived. It was about identifying with who we were created to be and how we should live differently. He tells us we are to be salt and light while we are here on earth. At the end of chapter 5, Jesus explains that part of being different is loving our enemies and those who give us a hard time. In the last verse, He says, “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (MSG).
If you’re like me (or even Simba), you forget who you are at times. We get so caught up living in the world that we adjust to its customers, culture and attitudes by reflecting them ourselves. We must remember who we are. We are not of this world, therefore we must live like subjects of God’s Kingdom reflecting our true identity. If there’s no difference in how we live, act and speak, how are we salt and light? Salt is used to enhance flavors isn’t it? Is your life enhancing others? Is it making them thirsty for God? In this sermon, Jesus is reminding us to be the children of God on this earth and to show a better way so that others will see how you live and want to follow God too. There are two identities that we have to choose from: one that will conform to this world and one that will conform to Heaven. As you’re faced with choices today, remember who you really are and choose the one that reflects God’s Kingdom.