If you have read the previous posts encouraging a personal journey of studying the New Testament for 2023 – you are probably wondering what the reference to mindful Christian living means. The short answer, and definition, merely reflects the idea of developing a perspective and life whereby one lives in harmony with self, the world, and with Jesus Christ as our sure foundation. A means where we examine who we are, how we come to view the world, and the significance of our own personal life and place. It is developing a spiritual awareness of living each moment in the fulness of what we know and understand. Furthermore, it is a reflection of being spiritually awaken to a true and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.
A longer, and significant definition and answer, rests upon the notion of the Christian perspective where we need to be honest. Like everyone else, we process our understanding of life through a conscious state of awareness. One may know of Christ, yet there are thousands of thoughts streaming through our heads daily. Sometimes overwhelming us with recurring thoughts and feelings. Mindful Christianity is a devoted discipline and practice of waking up from automatic thinking, resolving our struggle with shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, and other distressing emotions. It also means we become aware of those unconscious and conscious thoughts. How they impact our lives, our relationships, and even our ability to progress and grow as individuals. A spiritual discipline of learning to pay attention on purpose with the objectivity of being acutely aware of experiencing Christ’s presence is the core of Mindful Christian Living.
Mindful Christianity is a spiritual discipline of living out a Christ-centered life. A moment-by-moment process of letting go (surrendering) of self, and those self-centered thoughts (Ego) in order to replace them with Christ-centered thoughts. And before you jump on board the disagreement train – consider what the Apostle Paul taught:
3 For although we are living in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but powerful to God for the tearing down of fortresses, tearing down arguments 5 and all pride that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 6 And we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is completed.Second Corinthians 10:3-6, The Lexham English Bible
What this means for us is to gain the ability to manage what we think about self and life. To gain the ability to manage what we think – it requires us to become aware of our own personal thoughts and how those thoughts may lead toward unhealthy attitudes, behavior, and even affecting the choices we make (Moral Agency). In other words, our Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, desires that we gain the ability to manage our thoughts as a way of taking charge of our spiritual life – walking according to His Divine Will and Grace.
Mindful Christian Living is Foundation to Conversion and Transformation
Through this process of moment-by-moment of letting go of self (putting to death and denying self) one becomes fully conscious and aware of Christ living in us. Consider how the Apostle Paul relates this in his epistle to the Gentile Christians in Galatia:
19 For through the law I died to the law, in order that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:19-20, The Lexham English Bible; Emphasis Mine
We also find that the Apostle Paul spoke something similar:
23 For as I was passing through and observing carefully your objects of worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed, ‘To an unknown God.’ Therefore, what you worship without knowing it,* this I proclaim to you—24 the God who made the world and all the things in it. This one, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to everyone life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of humanity to live on all the face of the earth, determining their fixed times and the fixed boundaries of their habitation, 27 to search for God, if perhaps indeed they might feel around for him and find him. And indeed, he is not far away from each one of us, 28 for in him we live and move and exist as even some of your own poets have said: ‘For we also are his offspring. 29 Therefore, because we are offspring of God, we ought not to think the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by human skill and thought. 30 Therefore although God has overlooked the times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness by the man who he has appointed, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.The Acts of the Apostles 17:23-31, The Lexham English Bible; Emphasis Mine
Here, we learn that Jesus Christ is central in living life differently. It is central to our spiritual development, growth, and maturation. It is central to our ability to gain spiritual knowledge and insight in how we are able to relate in everyday life. Not only is it central to those things, but it is also a spiritual discipline and practice where an individual makes it a point to be fully awake and aware of Christ’s presence. When we approach living an authentic Christian life from a mindful perspective – we are truly experiencing the fullness of life because we are experiencing the fullness of Christ. And it is something that is down on a day-to-day basis.
Mindful Christian Living Nurtures Greater Awareness God’s Kingdom
When you begin studying the New Testament – one of the early idea’s centers on Jesus Christ Ministry. Specifically, it centers on the idea that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17). This kingdom of God (or Heaven) is spoken on many occasions, in many of Christ’s teachings, and even the basis for many of the parables of Christ. It is this kingdom that Christ bequests one to seek after (Matthew 6:33) and the righteousness of God.
Since life unfolds moment after moment, we may miss the fullness each offers by dwelling on those things of the past or the potential outcome of our future. Cited previous is that of Matthew 6:33. In the very next verse – Christ reflected the idea of how we are to nurture greater awareness of God’s Kingdom: Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. As for worrying about the past, the Savior simply stated that those who puts their hands on the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
The proverb of putting one’s hand on the plow means that one is decisively willing to commit themselves over to God. Our belief, our faith, our hope, and confidence of salvation and spiritual growth and mastery is sustained in our Heavenly Father – through Jesus Christ. And since some of Christ’s teachings reflected the understanding of agriculture in His lifetime – we find the application of this passage poignant and true. Any person willing to commit their lives and will over to the care of our Heavenly Father will only taste the fruits of spiritual growth, knowledge, insight, wisdom, and mastery by concentrating on growing in Christ and keeping an eternal perspective based on Gospel truths and principles.
In this sense, when we keep our eternal perspective and commit to living a more mindful and meaningful Christian Life – we are essentially nurturing our own greater awareness of Christs, and our Heavenly Father’s, righteousness as well as growing in knowledge and understanding of God’s Kingdom.
Mindful Christian Living Nurtures Healthy Relationships and Coping Skills
Our Heavenly Father created us with two significant aspects. One of these aspects, or attributes, is that of experiencing emotions. The second aspect deals with being social beings. As we approach the study of the New Testament, another key component of Christ’s teachings and gospel principles rest on how we related with others:
- Our view and perspective of other people
- Dealing with, and resolving, conflict associated with other people
- Ministering to others who are in need
- Holding self and others accountable
As one focuses on becoming more mindful of Christ, one discovers how it helps them get unstuck in everyday thoughts and focuses their attention on how to manage relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and even people within the community. It gives us an opportunity to allow the light of Christ to shine into our own hearts in order to reveal His plan and hope for us. It also allows the light of Christ to shine forth into the hearts and minds of others and bring them into a true and meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. Help them find answers to their own struggles, conflicts, and ability to learn to experience true spiritual conversion and transformation.
Mindful Christianity is the Promised “Abundant Life”
The promised life that Christ gives to those who truly are desiring to become His disciples is that of an abundant life (John 10:10). Such words spoken after Christ healed the man who was born blind. What is discovered is that this refers to experiencing a life that is beyond what a person may have anticipated. It is a life that may exceed personal expectations. Taking each of us past the expected limit of our own knowledge and understanding.
Living a mindful Christian life gives us this abundant life because we no longer view life from the perspective of merely surviving from moment-to-moment. Or view life as a meaningless sense of existence. It is giving us a sense of empowerment to live with true meaning and purpose because our Heavenly Father is above and beyond, exceeding our own personal understanding, and is generous in fulfilling His promises to those who faithfully walk in obedience to the teachings and principles of the Gospel.
Since we have limited perspective on who we are and what it means to be connected (having a sense of belonging), our knowledge and perspective is expanded with that of an eternal understanding and awareness. It gives us a greater sense of belonging.
Mindful Christianity is all about Denying and Crucifying Self
On numerous occasions I have mentioned Matthew 16:24-26 in various posts. There is good reason. Because living a Mindful Christian life requires each one of us to examine ourselves in light of who Christ is and bring to awareness of those things hidden. Exposing them to the light (John 3:19-21). By doing so we lay down our own opinions and prejudices about everything and everyone. In Christ, we find freedom and liberty from our personal ego so that we are capable of growing in spiritual truth and knowledge. This also includes growing to love God and to love others. And it is required if we desire to be converted and transformed into the image and character of Christ.
Through this process of denying self and carrying our own personal cross – we are empowered to develop the necessary spiritual discipline of living consciously in Christ. Not because we live – because, as the Apostle Paul stated – Christ lives through us. It is a way of dying to our natural man and rising up as a new creation so that we are encouraged to become who our Heavenly Father created us to be.
Mindful Christianity is a Practical Way of Being Connected
Finally, there is nothing about living a spiritual discipline life that is based on mindful living. It is not about selling a sophistry or philosophy of man. It is not about impressing you with anything. It is merely a practical way of being connected with who you are, being connected with others, and being connected with Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father.
It is the personal journey of becoming fully awake and aware, through observation, of self and others so that you are equipped to respond in a manner that reflects the nature and character of Christ. Which is the reflection and character of who our Heavenly Father is. This personal journey is empowering because it allows us to respond and become the person God created us to be. Furthermore, living a mindful Christian life gives us hope as we take on the nature of Christ in spirit, mind, and body so that we live with such an awareness each moment. To experiencing the blessings inherent in living such a disciplined life. And to be a blessing to others around us.
Living a Mindful Christian Life is not Easy
Because of the significant cost in living a mindful and meaningful Christian Life – and the requirement of consideration of how one ought to act, what to believe, and ways in how one associates with others – many find it quite difficult, demanding, and simply overwhelming. Despite Jesus Christ being a perfect example of how to live such a life. He was obedient to our Heavenly Father and constantly sought to do His will. He showed love, charity, and compassion toward many who came to him for healing, instruction, and understanding. And he walked in forgiveness toward those who were sincere as well as those who wronged him.
However, we are not left without any guidance on how to live a meaningful and mindful Christian life. Our Heavenly Father has established spiritual guidelines and disciplines we are to incorporate as part of our progress toward spiritual growth, maturation, and mastery:
- We are called to pray consistently and regularly
- Study the Scriptures and apply those Gospel Principles and truths into our own personal life
- Attend and Fellowship with others in worship, service, and discipleship
- Show kindness and charity toward others
- Make wise choices in order to become faithful stewards
- Grow in Spirit, Truth, Strength, and Stamina
Again, the cost in living a mindful and meaningful Christian life is quite significant. However, as we invest in striving to live out such a life there is great reward and sense of fulfillment. And it is because we live consciously with Christ – we are strengthened to do all things through Him because He gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).
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