To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6
When I read this verse in my daily devotional time, the words spiritually minded popped out at me. I instinctively knew what it meant to carnally minded since I have so much practice at it. But I couldn’t pin down what it meant to be spiritually minded nearly as easily. One of my goals in my blog is to make spiritual concepts more concrete. I do this not for my readers but for myself. How easy it is to sound high minded and cerebral without saying anything coherent, particularly when it comes to the spiritual.
So I spent a week meditating on this idea. Now that I have read through the Bible quite a few times, I find myself dwelling on small bits for weeks on end. The phrase spiritually minded only happens once in the Bible, but you could make the case that the whole thing is trying to show us the difference between the flesh and the spirit. So here is my brief list, though I feel sure that one could write a book on this topic. Probably, they already have, if my last trip to the Christian bookstore was any indication.
1: To be spiritually minded is to take an eternal perspective.
I am a clock watcher. I prefer to be on time for everything but parties and churches with discordant worship. In fact, my whole mindset when I began to pursue inner healing both for myself and as a vocation was a search for the quick solution. In my prayer ministry sessions, I was patiently impatient. I never pushed anyone to heal (as if that was possible), but I wanted outcomes. Now that I have done it for fifteen years, I have had glimpses of eternity within those same sessions.
A temporal perspective looks at the outside indicators. An eternal one no longer attaches time stipulations to healing or growth. Another aspect of an eternal perspective is that our problems here on earth change in terms of how we see their significance. A financial crisis becomes an opportunity to walk in faith. Illness becomes a test of trust. Personal conflicts show us how to love our enemy. The truth is that an eternal perspective doesn’t belittle our temporal trials by making them seem trivial. Quite the contrary. In eternity, even the little things can have spiritual significance. Everyone is important in forever time.
2: To be spiritually minded is to live in Holy Spirit flow
When one is a capable adult, the temptation is to set the agenda each day. The list grows and life flows towards getting that last item crossed off. But Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. One thing that I have noticed about the Holy Spirit is that He is not predictable. When we give up control of our days to the will of God, we often get led in ways we might not have ventured on our own. My own amused observation is that no matter how long I spend in devotional time, I get stuff done. No devotional time and my wheels spin and gain no ground.
Living in the flow, however, requires humility. When I was thirty-eight, I was pretty sure I knew how to live. Now that I am fifty and have moved eight times in those twelve years, I know that I don’t know. While I could see purpose and provision in each of those relocations, I wouldn’t have chosen any of them. But I gained something valuable in each place and fulfilled important assignments as well. I guess the question God asks of each of us is whether our lives belong to us or to Him. If you answer my life belongs to God, let the games begin!
3: To be spiritually minded is to be at peace with yourself.
Some religions like Christian Science reject the body entirely. The whole material world is a sham and only serves as a test of how spiritual one is. Many Christians, too, neglect their lives and believe that they are being spiritual. But our bodies, as temples of the Holy Spirit, need care. In fact, God uses concrete objects to explain spiritual truths. His lessons are filled with bread, water, blood, and trees. The list is endless; grains of wheat, seeds, earth, heavens, swords, armor, and childbirth each play a part in creating spiritual truth. If you think your body doesn’t matter or is evil, try getting on your knees before God or raising your hands in worship. If God didn’t love your body, He wouldn’t have designed it so carefully.
The spiritually minded Christian does not separate him or herself into pieces but pursues the knowledge and love of Christ in body, soul, and spirit. To be a Christian often requires a discipline even harder than forgiving others. It requires forgiving and loving oneself, accepting the cross of one’s life gladly and following Jesus down the Calvary road. By all means, put to death the desires of the flesh. But tending the garden of the heart, mind, and spirit so that the fruits of the Spirit can grow produces a holy desire that only God can satisfy.
4: To be spiritually minded means having ears that hear and eyes that see.
Jesus said His sheep know His voice. For me, His voice manifests in a myriad of ways. I hear Him in the Bible, in worship, and in a good sermon, yes. But I also hear Him in my spirit and in my heart, where He lives. I see Him in His creation, especially in His children. The mountains do declare His majesty and the heavens declare His vastness. I see and hear Him because I expect to see and hear Him. I am still practicing, of course. I sometimes get it wrong. But if you allow yourself to move into the mystery that in Him we live and move and have our being, you too will begin to see His face all around you.
I am sure I left out something. I sometimes feel that my spiritual awareness flickers like a light bulb that doesn’t have quite enough power. But I know one thing for sure. To be spiritually minded is to shine a light in a dark word. To be carnally minded is to leave death and darkness in your wake. But to allow God’s spirit to shine in the deepest places within you is to become that light on a hill. You will know those who are spiritually minded by the light they bring with them. And friend, if you have that light, even if it is small, let it shine! There is always someone looking for a light to guide them home. Yours might be the only one they see.