Thursday, September 26, 2019

Becoming What We Imitate

For a long time, I have been a student of how our bodies, souls and spirits work together to make us fully human. I know that we can only be fully alive in Jesus Christ because, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”[1]

This illustration gives a sense of how our humanity relates to its three dimensions, and how our souls relate to the material and spiritual worlds. Through our physical body our soul relates to the physical world, and through our spiritual body our soul relates to the spiritual world.

Our soul is us. It is our life. Our soul houses our minds the way our bodies house our brains. We have a heart that pumps what we believe through our souls just as we have a material heart that pumps life-blood through our bodies.

With all this going on, I am regularly blown away by the amazing ways God designed our brains to express the even greater realities of our minds. New discoveries in brain science cause the teachings of God’s word to stand out all the clearer.

Yesterday I learned that our brains are designed with “mirror neurons”. They are constantly watching to “see” things in others that mirror what we see in ourselves. They are designed to bring people together in shared-mindedness. They thrive on good examples we can follow in order to bring us closer together in our relationships.[2]

We see this in things like Paul wanting to “hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,”[3] and asking believers to, “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”[4]

It is actually no wonder that God would design our brains to help us develop a “mutual mind”. Our souls are made for this one-mindedness, so our bodies/brains are made to seek this out as well.  

Since these “mirror neurons” are looking to see where there is mutual-mindedness in the people around us, it suddenly stands out why God’s Book makes so much of what we see, and where we set our minds. Here are some things that stood out as I was praying through these gifts this morning.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”[5]

When we are called to “see” the kind of love our heavenly Father has for us, our minds want to focus on such things in order to give our hearts the joy to pump through our souls and fill us with “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”.[6]

Our “seeing” of the realities of Father’s agapè love for us, already poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us,[7] causes us to feel the mutual nature of this love. It originates in God,[8] is demonstrated in the death of Jesus Christ,[9] is ministered to our hearts through the Holy Spirit,[10] and now we see it filling us so that we like to be together with people who share it as adopted sons of God.[11]

And, Father designed our brains with mirror neurons so that we could relate in the material realm according to what God is doing in the spiritual realm to bring our souls together in Jesus Christ.

The apostle John continues: “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”[12]

What stood out here is that our becoming like Jesus is so thoroughly associated with “we shall see him as he is.” Our minds will suddenly see Jesus in the fullest possible way, without any filters, coping skills, self-protection, childhood trauma, or weak faith hindering us, and so everything God designed into us for mutual-mindedness will be free to be fully real with our Savior.

As this relates to the freedom-issues so many church folk struggle with, consider this: If the world, the flesh and the devil can keep faulty perceptions of Jesus and his people before our eyes, the Jesus we “see” through these lies will not feel like someone we want to be mutual-minded with. Satan’s strawman of an unloving Savior pushes us away from the real Lord Jesus Christ, leaving churches filled with the most un-agapèing (unloving) of people hurting one another left and right.

When we see Jesus as he really is, even in all the limitations of this earthly foreign land, we recognize what is mutual in us and both desire it and imitate it.

Which led me to these two wonderful expressions of body, soul and spirit working together in love. First, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”[13] And, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”[14]

Putting these two expressions together (as we should), we have the gift of “beholding the glory of the Lord,” so that both mind and brain receive what they see, and, as a result, “are being transformed into the same image” as our Savior, “from one degree of glory to another.”

And, the reason this happens so wonderfully is that the same God who said, “Let there be light,”[15] has shone in our hearts so that our minds could see “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

No wonder we are called to, “be imitators of God, as beloved children.”[16] When beloved children look at their Father loving them, both their minds that are in fellowship with the mind of Christ, and their brains that are filled with mirror neurons looking for the mutual-mindedness of the kingdom of God, come together to want to imitate the very one who loves us most in the whole wide world (and beyond).

And that is why we can, “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”[17] We keep setting our minds and mirror neurons on the great love Jesus expresses to us in laying down his life for his brothers, and our mutual-mindedness wants to keep in step with the Holy Spirit as he lovingly helps us to “walk in love” with the Triune God and his people.

Some people might think that this is a no-brainer, but the wonder is that the mirror-neurons God designed into our brains enable our souls to relate to God and each other here in this material world so that our souls feel fully alive as we become all the more like our Savior together.

© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] John 1:4
[2] I learned these things in the book, “RARE Leadership”, by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder
[3] Philippians 1:27
[4] Philippians 2:2
[5] I John 3:1
[6] I Peter 1:8
[7] Romans 5:5
[8] I John 4:8
[9] Romans 5:6-8
[10] Romans 5:5; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6
[11] Acts 4:32; Colossians 2:2,19; Romans 8:15,23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5
[12] I John 3:2
[13] II Corinthians 3:18
[14] II Corinthians 4:6
[16] Ephesians 5:1
[17] Ephesians 5:2

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