When Paul wrote the scripture we’ll be focusing on this Sunday in the Sanctuary Service, he was in prison. Perhaps that is why, in this letter to the Philippians (4:4-9), Paul is so focused on the interior life — the head and the heart.
In this letter, to the Philippians of his day — and to us in our day, Paul challenges his readers to pay attention to our thought life.
Why is that so important? we may wonder.
I think there are a lot of reasons why Paul advises this deep inner focus. For one thing, it is what we think about that shapes who we are. In fact, Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way: “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
In that light, Paul calls us to think about these things: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
We are what we think about all day long.
For this reason, it is very important to remember that our thoughts do make a difference; our dreams make a difference; and perhaps most important of all, what we imagine makes a difference. In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul says, “Have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
What does that mean in practical terms?
When we think with the mind of Christ, when we imagine what he is calling us to do and who God is calling us to be, then we can see the great possibilities God has in store. Thinking with the mind of Christ also makes it much easier to really see God at work around us, in us, and through us.
What we imagine also makes a difference because what we imagine precedes what we do. Any great thing we do or accomplish begins with imagining what can be.
Thirty years ago, Stanford neuro-physiologist Karl Pribam’s research showed that an image in the mind fires the same neural connections in the autonomic nervous system as does the actual act of doing something.
That’s the power of imagining. It prepares us for the action that will follow. Athletes know the power of visualizing. Study after study on athletic performance shows that imagined practice is almost as good as actually practicing. (Imagine yourself hitting that pickle ball with just the right angle, speed, and form, over and over again, and that alone will improve your game!)
So, knowing that our imagination has the power to bring about action — and the results of that action — just imagine what we are capable of as a faith community in the heart of Fort Worth!
When we have the mind in us that was in Christ, when we imagine what God is calling us to do, and when we imagine ourselves living out this calling to “go out and be God’s people in the world,” these great thoughts work their way into the core of who we are — and back out again to empower us to accomplish GREAT GOOD.
In our 2020 Stewardship campaign, we are focusing together on what we can accomplish together as a community of faith when we IMAGINE it together. I invite you to become an active part in helping First Church imagine all that we can do, in 2020 and beyond.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry 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.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.