I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a brilliant cognitive neuroscientists who happens to be a very strong Christian. Her work has helped transform the lives of patients with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), learning disabilities, and emotional traumas. She teaches the importance of training our minds and taking control of our thought patterns – some might call it positive thinking.
I am not necessarily a fan of what is often labeled as “positive thinking” but I am a huge fan of “kingdom thinking”. What I mean by kingdom thinking, is the paradigm of thought that allows the teachings of Jesus and the realities that he set to be the main lens through which we see life.
When I started following Christ, certain sins and bad habits seemed to drop instantly. The mystery though, is that some bad habits remained. It was clear that although I had become a new creation in Christ spiritually (2 Corinthians 5:17), I had not yet been made completely perfect in this physical reality. Christianese often calls this paradox a product of “kingdom now and not yet” theology. This implies that although Christ is risen and is alive and has redeemed us all, he still has not returned to manifest his Kingdom fully here on earth. This appears to be a reason why sometimes miracles happen, and sometimes they don’t.
I have read some great books regarding kingdom theology and I’ve had conversations with some very intelligent Christians. Due to my studies and my experiences, I have come to a personal conclusion regarding kingdom thinking. I believe that God’s Kingdom is both now, and not yet. It would be irrational for me to gaze at all the evil in the world today and believe that God’s kingdom is fully manifesting today. However, I would be equally as foolish to witness the life change and miracles that I have seen and believe that God’s kingdom is nowhere in existence. What I personally choose to believe though is that although this is the reality around me, my only option as a Christian who has a mission on this earth, is to live my life with the thought pattern and expectation of Kingdom now.
When I walk with the mindset of kingdom now, and not yet, I tend to expect the “not yet” part. Because of this, when I see someone walking on crutches, I do not pray for them. However if I walk with the mindset of kingdom now, it is suddenly easier for me to take risks. If nothing dramatic happens in the instantaneous moment of prayer, then I accept the not yet part of my theology, while at the same time praying continuously that God would touch that person’s life in some way.
This change in thought pattern is not merely good advise from a psychologist, or a blogger, it is actually a scriptural command. Paul wrote about this matter often, saying:
Often Christians have read these verses and applied it only to the issue of sin. I would propose that it is about far more than that. It is about us renewing our minds in a way that allows for our actions to contribute to making the culture here “on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). To simplify it, I would say, since we have the Holy Spirit influencing our thoughts, we should try to think and live the way Jesus did. And in theses efforts, if we appear to come off as optimistic and positive thinkers, well that is because God is good.