We Have the Mind of Christ

Meditation on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown

Pastor Karen Crawford

Feb. 5, 2023

Art by Stushie

      Dear friends, thank you for your prayers for me and for the beautiful cards and flowers and other thoughtful gifts. The one thing that helped me through the anxious time before my surgery and the painful time afterward was the love of God revealed through your love and faith.

     It was cold and rainy at 5:35 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 23. Jim and I pulled into the parking lot at St. Catherine’s Hospital and despite my fears that I would be late, we were early. When I called the nurse’s station to tell them I had arrived, I was asked to wait until my appointed time—5:45.

     How did I feel that morning, just before my thyroid surgery? I think I was ready to get the surgery over with, after waiting 3 months. But I was also scared. I had heard about the risks. The one that worried me most was that the surgery could affect the nerve that controls the vocal chords. I could have a raspy voice or lose my voice altogether. How would I be able to preach?

  That morning, one of the nurses was particularly sweet to me. When she found out that I was a Christian—and was feeling badly that I couldn’t keep my cross with me—she gave me her own Catholic medals to hold. Just before they wheeled me into the OR, she asked if I wanted one to keep, though I was a Protestant. That made me smile, and I said yes, and she taped one to the ID bracelet on my wrist. It was with me throughout my surgery and recovery at home.

   The apostle Paul says we should always have confidence, no matter the situations we face in this life—not matter our infirmities. We don’t lose heart, he says in 2 Corinthians. “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” Paul categorizes all of life and the difficulties in this world as a “slight momentary affliction” that is “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.”

 Isn’t that wonderful? What a promise! “An eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.”

   In our 1 Corinthians reading today, we discover that Paul was also worried about his preaching—and was apologetic about it.  He was honest about his weakness, in general. He is intentional in pointing out his weakness, whatever it might be (some scholars think it was a physical problem or illness, but we don’t know). Paul says that his weakness reveals the power and glory of God at work in and through him. We must all remember that it is God who does the persuading and heart changing—not us. Fancy words may obscure our testimony of hope in Christ crucified and raised, which we are all called to share in the words and ways we are given. “We speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”

    We can trust that God is for us and not against us. God is WITH us, always, in a Spirit that lives inside of us and guides each of us. Listen to this marvelous claim. Paul says that we have the mind of Christ! What on earth does he mean by this? We are connected to Christ, the wisdom of God, freely given to us, even without our being aware of it. This doesn’t mean that everything we do is divine or that we always make the right choices. We have no guarantee of perfection. BUT. But we can count on the help of the perfect Spirit, who never grows weary or holds our past against us! The Spirit doesn’t get mad at us when we have doubts or become discouraged. The Spirit won’t abandon us in our time of need!

    One of my favorite scriptural passages is when Paul says in Romans 8:26 and 27, Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

    I saw my surgeon for the follow-up visit on Wednesday. He pulled off the tape, pronounced me well and recommended an ointment for healing the scar on my neck. Later, I thought about how it would be nice if emotional healing worked that way, especially when recovering from life’s many traumas.

I know some of your stories, and how you have persevered through difficult times and scary diagnoses. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an ointment we could dab on our necks that would take away all the painful memories?  A little ointment on the neck, and we haven’t a care in the world!

It’s hard not to look back and second guess our decisions, once the crises are over. In moments of weakness, I still wonder if I did the right thing. Was it the right procedure? Right surgeon? Right place? Right time? Will the cancer return to the other side of my thyroid? Someplace else?

We try so hard. We don’t want to make any mistakes. We can become frozen in uncertainty and insecurity, unable to continue on a confident and peaceful path. This isn’t the way God wants us to live. We have been given the power to live differently. A good and gracious and generous God desires that we live new and abundant lives through the Son, Jesus Christ.

    I wasn’t sure if coming back to lead worship today would be too soon for my healing. But I missed seeing you and being with you. I wanted to show you my love and gratitude for your kindness. Most of all, I wanted to share a word of encouragement, which we ALL need.  I wanted to bless you, with the power of the Spirit living inside of me!  

    May we all be lifted today by the reminder of the Spirit’s making its home in us, interceding for us when we don’t know how to pray, helping us do God’s will when we don’t know what steps to take.

     May we experience peace and complete healing from past and present suffering, knowing that God is for us, never against us—because of what Christ has done. And that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

     May we be emboldened to share our testimonies in our own words so that others would be persuaded to come to know the Lord in a personal way.

    May we be strengthened through life’s many challenges and difficult decisions that await us in the future, knowing that we have the mind of Christ, the wisdom of God, freely given in our time of need.

Let us pray.

Loving and healing God, thank you for sending your Spirit to live within us and guide us through the many hard decisions and difficult paths that we will in the future take. Thank you for giving us one another to love and encourage, so that we would become the people of faith, peace, and gentleness you want us to be. Help us to feel your loving presence with us as we go about our daily lives and to experience the emotional and spiritual healing that only Christ can give. Amen.

Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Minnie, a toy poodle.

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