Monday, October 22, 2012

God’s Psychological Plan

Many years ago I used to sit outside in my car and listen to the radio during lunchtime.  Like most, I was a fan of Paul Harvey.  But there was also an evangelist who came on during my lunch hour who will remain names less I would listen to if he caught my attention.  One day he did when he announced he was going to talk about “God’s Psychological Plan” for us.  His sermon for that day was something of an epiphany for me which has served me in good stead at times over the years.  So I’m going to share that illumination with you my dear friends.

The formula is found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in the fourth chapter:

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (vs. 5; ESV)

First of all our minds should be focused on the Lord and his soon to be revealed kingdom, which will restore that which was lost.  That will help us to keep our reasonableness in the midst of this every chaotic world which is headed towards it’s destruction at his hands.  We want our lives to be such, that others will see our God-inspired calm as things get further out of control.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Php 4:6-7)

Here we are told not to be anxious over anything, and we are told how, by making our cares known to God.  That is important, that we talk to God and let him know what’s on our minds, what bothers us.  Then after placing in his hands we need to leave it there trusting he will do what needs to be done for our best welfare.  When it seems that our prayers aren’t getting answered, then we must trust that he is working things out for our well-being and in the time best for us.  In my experience that is usually the case.

But the advice isn’t without a promise.  We are told that his peace, the peace which is superior to all troubles will guard both our hearts and our minds.  What other outcome can there be, dear friends, when we place all our cares in the hands of he who is the author of all and who is so powerful he answers to no other power on earth or in heaven?  With almighty God for us no power in heaven or on earth can defeat us (Rom. 8:31), though he could allow us to be taken down into death, just as he did his son (Rom. 8:32), if he justifies us nobody can stand between us and the prize (Rom. 8:33-39).  So with that in mind we cannot help but be at peace no matter what happens around us, or to us.  But there is more:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  (Php 4:8-9)

This is the final step in the plan and the one many mental health experts agree with.  We live in a world filled with every violent and corrupt thing imaginable.  We cannot go to the theater, turn on the TV or go to the library or bookstore without being offered some of the worse and most corrupting “entertainment” offered in the history of the world.  But for true peace we must fill our minds with that which is right in God’s eyes.

But notice the subtle change in thought in this passage.  We’re told not that we will have peace, as in the earlier passage, but that “the God of peace” will be with us.  Fixing our minds on what is right is a pre-condition to his coming near to us and giving his protection, both physically and mentally, to us.  And think about it a few minutes.  How can we ever hope to have peace if our minds and hearts are always fixated on what is wrong and strains us mentally and emotionally.  We can’t.  But if we fix our minds on what is good we are in a better frame to deal with things and we are in a better position to have God’s help.

So there we have it.  Philippians 4:5-9 was the passage a slick radio and television evangelist labeled the “Psychological Plan of God.”  Through the years, though, I’ve been convinced by using it from time to time that he was right.  In this short passage we have a compact plan for the true Christian to follow for peace of mind, even at the worse of times.  I will go it one further.  This is a plan we should keep in mind and follow everyday, period.

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