Thinking Differently

In order to gain any meaningful understanding of the scriptures one must think differently.  To put into different words, normal thinking will not unlock the truths hidden in God’s Word.  To use even different words, natural wisdom, or worldly wisdom is insufficient for understanding God’s Word.

There are very smart people in the world who can tell you their understanding of God’s Word.  They can preach, teach Sunday School, hold seminars, become TV evangelists, build great ministries, and still miss the truths hidden in God’s Word.  How can this be possible?  How can the truths be hidden when they are revealed in plain sight?

These questions can be answered in John chapters 7 and 8.  In these chapters Jesus has several discussions with the religious leaders of that time.  At moments the discussion is heated, and accusations are leveled, they attempt on more than one occasion, to kill Jesus.  The discussion takes many twists and turns in the these two chapters, and many topics are covered, but they all say the same basic thing – if you have not been born again, you cannot understand the truths hidden in God’s Word.  These truths are only revealed through divine revelation.

They are not ‘natural’ truths.  That is, they are truths the wise people of this world cannot comprehend, or even want to comprehend.  Jesus spoke to the religious leaders as plainly as he could, even taking pains to explain things to them, and they still could not understand it.  In verse 43 of chapter 8, Jesus tells them this:

“Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.”

Well, obviously He is not talking about hearing with the ear, so it must be something else.  Why couldn’t they hear?  What was it that was preventing them from hearing and understanding what Jesus was saying?

The answer is revealed in verse 47:

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”

This is a profound verse and concept.  It means you can hear something, read something, study something, and still come away clueless.  These things are only revealed to those who ‘are of God’.

What does it mean to think differently?  Let me give you a few short examples.

Life and death.  We know what these terms mean, or at least we think we do.  We know what life is, and we know what death is.  But, from a God perspective these terms take on a different meaning than the ones we are familiar with.  Jesus said,

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

Jesus is speaking to Martha and trying to explain to her that although her brother Lazarus is dead, he will live again.  But, He is saying more than that.  In a few moments, Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead, but that is not really what he is talking about when He says, “whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”

He is saying to Martha, “Your definition of life and death need to change.  You only have a human understanding of these terms.  You need to accept God’s definition of these terms instead.”

Of course, the next question is, what is God’s definition of these terms, then?  We don’t have to go very far to find out.  In Matthew 8:22 – Jesus says this to a man who wants to follow Jesus, but has asked to wait until his father dies, so he can bury him.  To which Jesus replies:

“But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”

What in the world does this mean?  What does it mean let the dead bury the dead?  How can the dead bury the dead?  Well, they can’t from a worldly understanding of these terms.  But, from a spiritual perspective it makes perfect sense.  The first ‘dead’ is speaking of those individuals who are alive in this world, but are dead to God.  And the second ‘dead’ is referring to the earthly death, that we are all familiar with.  But, above Jesus told Martha that those who believe in Him will never die.  Obviously, many have believed in Jesus and still died, and are buried or cremated, or have been lost in warfare.  So, what does this mean, ‘shall never die’?  It means that even though we hold earthly death of this body as a major, dreaded, event, that is not the death He is talking about.  He is talking about something more important than the death we know about.  And we might rightly ask, “What can be more important than death?”  The answer is spiritual death.  Spiritual death is so important that you don’t find Jesus saying much about earthly death, but He says a great deal about spiritual death.  In fact, if we could accept it, earthly death is a great big subject to us, but is a small matter to God.

But, as suggested in the title, the only way to understand these terms ‘life’ and ‘death’ is by thinking differently.

Ok, so what other terms require us to think differently?  What about the term ‘love’?  Well, we think we have a pretty good handle on this term, but may I suggest we do not.  We have a pretty good handle on earthly love, but not a good handle on Godly love, or spiritual love.  We know what it is like to love our family, our spouse, our children, our grandchildren, to love our friends.  But, this is not the highest level of love.  There is a level above this.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus is getting ready to go to the cross, and is giving some final instructions to His disciples:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Ok, this sounds pretty reasonable, but wait.  Not so fast.  He says to love one another, but not with any kind of love.  “as I have loved you” is the key to these two verses.  It puts ‘love’ into a different realm.  This is not ordinary worldly love.  This is something else.  This on a completely different level than the world knows about.  How do we know this?  Simple – look at the following – “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if he have love one to another.”  This doesn’t sound so extraordinary, does it?  But, it is.  Let me explain.

There are many groups in the world.  There are clubs, associations, assemblies, hobby clubs, golf clubs, sports clubs, gym clubs, weight management clubs, the list is endless.  Then there are those associations that are family, children, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends.  Both Christians and the world belong to many of these.  And Christians and the world love each other in these settings.  But, Jesus is saying something extraordinary here.  The love that Christ’s disciples have for each other must be greater than the love the world has.  Why?  Because of the phrase ‘By this shall all men know…’  Why would they take notice if you love the same way the world loves?  Why would anyone take notice if the love we have for each other is the same as what the world has?  Jesus says, however, if you love each other the same way I’ve loved you, the world will take notice.  How did he love the disciples?  This is also answered in the following:

 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

He loved them enough to die for them.  But, hold it.  Jesus died for the whole world, not just for the disciples.  Yes, true, but even if the disciples were the only ones in the world, Jesus would have died for them, too.

I’ve only covered a few highlights in this discussion, and only touched the surface.  But, if we are to understand God’s Word we must think differently, for the key is not to be had in the wisdom of this world.

One Response to “Thinking Differently”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Great blog! Four years ago I began to pray the following, “Lord, please help me to love people the way You love people and to see people through Your eyes because I can’t do it myself.” Believe me, to earnestly pray those words… works! I have learned to truly love my enemies and to look at people differently but I pray that prayer daily. I constantly have to work at it but IT DOES WORK! He knows our heart and if we are sincere with our request. Thanks for sharing this insight. I am living proof of what it means to really love our enemies. Blessings….

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