If you have ever felt like you are just enduring life, going through the motions, and getting caught up in the rat race, you might just be living a normal, run of the mill, possibly even mundane lifestyle. But Christians are not meant to live ordinary lives. We are created to live extraordinary ones! It would be difficult to “itemize” a complete listing of what an extraordinary life looks and feels like in comparison to an ordinary one. But here are a few characteristics we should experience daily as a result of accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord of our lives: walking in the joy of the Lord as our strength; knowing we are the apple of His eye and treasuring this truth; experiencing the peace that passes all understanding no matter what is happening around or to us; having no fear or worry; basking in the light of His love; living a lifestyle of praise, prayer, and worship, laying hands on the sick and seeing them healed; casting out demons and seeing people set free; giving others a defense of our faith; making disciples; teaching others all that Jesus has commanded us; following our pastors; being involved with our church family.
One reason we do not live extraordinary lives instead settling for average is because we do not understand our peculiarity in this world. Extraordinary carries unusual implications as God describes His people whom He has selected as His own possession as “peculiar” or special to Him. Titus 2:14 reads “Who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” 1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” God was originally speaking to the Israelites, His chosen people, but as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice and through adoption we are included as His special treasures. We belong to a God who is anything but ordinary. Nevertheless, extraordinary will not make us popular and attractive to the world contrary to what we see or do not see in the Christian church today.
We will live extraordinarily when we appreciate the Gospel and stop trying to please people by making it relevant or palpable. It already is pleasing! It is perfect and complete, relevant for all ages, generations, cultures, and peoples. It needs nothing added to it; does not need to be tweaked in order to make it more relevant; does not need to be softened; does not need to be made more exciting! It is a beautiful depiction of life everlasting available for all people of all times – just as it is! It stands alone as the greatest message ever heard or ever will be heard. We sometimes think people will find us attractive when we present the Gospel but we must remember it is an offense to many. When we get over ourselves and realize that living an extraordinary life includes rejection and persecution we might truly embrace it more readily. The Gospel message in itself lends itself to an extraordinary life!
The other thing we must know and do in order to live an extraordinary life is to enter and abide in the presence of God as a lifestyle not just weekly or less frequently. It is essential we grab hold of the truth we are His special people in order to embrace and desire the manifest presence of God. It is only out of this “presence” time with God that we will live extraordinary lives. Being in His manifest presence refreshes, empowers, and sends us out with His authority.
We can only enjoy and delight ourselves in the presence of God by being in control of our minds and letting the Spirit of God work in us rather than letting our minds control us. Our minds will fight us every step of the way if we do not command them to line up with God and His Word. As Christians it is crucial never to give control of our minds to any other person nor “empty” our minds through relaxation techniques, hypnosis, or the like even if it is “just for fun”. Our minds are powerful gifts we are required to steward at all times and we need to use them to live extraordinarily.
Time and space do not permit an in-depth look at hypnosis or other techniques many Christians freely engage in believing them to be therapeutic. But it is important to know that hypnosis actually involves making suggestions to a person for imaginative experiences in order to encourage and evaluate their response to suggestions. This is dangerous territory for Christians to enter. During hypnosis, one person (the subject) is guided by another (the hypnotist) to respond to suggestions for changes in experience, alterations in perception, sensation, emotion, thought or behavior. This should create a huge red flag in our spirits as Christians when we know our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit who needs no help through suggestion to change or alter our experiences, perceptions, emotions, thoughts, or behaviors. He is more than able to help, teach, and guide us as well as keep our minds clean and purified for His purposes. Christians must be keenly aware of Satan’s involvement in this world and his desire to change our perceptions, emotions, and thoughts about Jesus. In other words, he would love to draw us out of our intimate faith relationship with God.
Satan counterfeits everything God has created. Satan uses what God created, our imaginations, to distort truth and control people. Some Christians balk at the idea of “imagining” or training our minds to do anything while others who are looking for the sensational freely participate in anything that ignites their imaginations. Neither is a good, Godly model for being good stewards of our minds. We must thank God for giving us our imaginations, then submit them to His Lordship and use them in our faith journey.
In the Bible one of the Greek words used for both “mind” and “imagination” is “dianoia”. This word means “the faculty of understanding, feeling, and desiring” and can be used positively or negatively depending on context. Luke 1:51 “He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” Matthew 22:37 “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Hebrews 8:10 “”For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
When we embrace our God-given imaginations in the positive sense, trusting Him to help us use them to apply truths rather than shutting them down or freely opening them to others, we will more readily and easily enter the presence of God and abide in His presence. When we understand the Greek usage of imagination includes our feelings and desires, we simply make our imaginations line up with God’s feelings and desires. We have the power through Jesus Christ to train our minds and we are given entrance into the presence of God in truth and in fullness. Our ability to spend time in the presence of God is directly correlated to our ability and cooperation in allowing the Spirit of the living God to be in control of our imaginations and minds. Our spiritual ability to see, experience and feel are directly related to what we believe about God, what He is capable of, what His desires are, and what His will is concerning His relationship with us. In other words, the more we use our imaginations to spiritually experience intimacy with God, the more we will desire to spend time in His manifest presence, and the more we will come to know God with His capabilities, desires and will fully revealed. They are all intertwined. We are intricately woven creations of God!
God tells us exactly how to be in command of our minds in Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This transformation by the renewing of the mind teaches us how to have healthy minds – period! It equips us to know God’s will! Yet, how many times Christians speak these words “I don’t know God’s will in this particular situation so I am just praying for His will to be done.” How can we prove something if we do not know it? Beloved people of God – when we stop conforming to the world with its answers and start renewing our minds in Christ, we will not only know God’s will but we will prove His will through our transformation! It is very easy to be conformed to this world and its way of thinking if we are not in the continual process of transformation through renewal. God’s way is guaranteed to work much better than any hypnosis or relaxation technique. Yet, we continue to witness Christians turn to worldly answers as a way to cope or overcome situations and issues in life, rather than enter this transformation process through intimate times with Father God.
Understanding then applying the Scripture “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” in the original Greek language will bring us full circle to understanding how taking control of our mind gives us entrance into the presence of God. The word “mind” in this context is translated “the place of reason” and in the narrow sense it is “the capacity to perceive spiritual truths or divine things thus recognizing goodness and hating evil.” It is in this place of spiritual reasoning, in our minds, that we are to be renewed. We are to be so changed, so transformed, undergo such a metamorphism, that our spirits which govern our minds are renewed. When speaking of this renewal and transformation in God’s economy our minds are broadened to include our spirit. Even more fascinating is that the root word for “mind” or “nous” in Greek comes from the base word “ginosko” meaning “knowledge grounded on personal experience.” We gain this ginosko, this “knowing”, in the manifest presence of our Lord and Savior, our Helper, our heavenly Father! When we choose to bring our minds into submission to the lordship of God, we freely and eagerly enter into the manifest presence of God where we come to ginosko (know) Him more, and where our renewal is certain, our transformation guaranteed!
Not only is renewal a definite result of knowing God, it is a far better restoration than any earthly renewal we can imagine. When God says we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds He is telling us there is a “complete change for the better”. Completeness is something God specializes in; He never does anything partway! When God renews our minds with the knowledge of Himself, it is absolutely all-embracing, all-inclusive, extensive, widespread, wide-ranging, thorough, perfect, utterly great – it is COMPLETE! We get this complete renewal in the presence of God and we must experience this renewal repeatedly because in this world we become incomplete. Therefore we must find that sweet place with God in His manifest presence in order to be made complete again, in order to regain the capacity to perceive spiritual truths, in order to have our spirits which govern our minds refreshed, in order to know God based on a personal encounter with Him.
We are told not to conform to the world, not to agree or be consistent with the world. We are to be transformed, changed, converted and completely overhauled by the renewing of our minds. What a difference this will make in our lives when we choose godly transformation and renewal by being in the holy presence of our God who completely knows us and wants us to ginosko Him! Renewal causes transformation, changing from one form into another form. Our moral character is literally changed to the better, in this case into the image of Christ. As Christians we are to be transformed from our carnal, fleshly characters into the character of Christ. This happens here on earth, not when we get to heaven. There is a complete change; the old is gone; the new has come. Now that is extraordinary!
Extraordinary living through renewing our minds! How are we doing?