Someone once reported after having cataract surgery that the world was suddenly brighter and more colorful. The dull film that clouded their vision was gone, and they could see the world around them as it really was. That same eye-opening, mind altering, joy-inducing experience is the goal of our next Lambchow Series.
Philippians 4:8 is a well know verse to many that follow Jesus and will be our focus for this series. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, NASB95) The contextual wrapper around this verse is peace.
In the previous verses Paul provides some quick phrases and encouragement which end with, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, NASB95) Which is immediately followed with “Finally, brethren…”
The verse immediately following also contains a promise of peace. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, NASB95) The framework of Paul’s instruction flows from think, practice, and find peace.
Peace of heart and mind can be a hard to capture and hold on to. How can we find peace? How can we push away worry and anxiety? How can we experience peace while the storms of life rage around us? Why does peace seem so elusive and fleeting? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27, NASB95) And, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NASB95) Peace is found in Jesus, but how do we walk in it? By having our hearts reborn and our thinking transformed.
More than a filter
A fairly common teaching aim for Philippians 4:8 is to employ it as a kind of mental filter. A set of guidelines to discern what we should and should not watch, listen to, and participate in. Garbage in, garbage out as the saying goes. There is value in that teaching, but it loses some of the beauty of Paul’s instruction. Only seeing Philippians 4:8 as a kind of filter bends it towards law side of the equation. We end up focusing on what is wrong or what gets trapped in the filter.
Our intent in this series is to reThink Philippians 4:8 to discover the peace found in its setting by changing our focus. As we take each of the attributes, in turn, we’ll identify them, explore their opposites to add clarity, expose the benefits, and suggest some practical ways of employing them. “reThinking48” means that we want to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy instead of just keeping out the false, corrupt, unjust, evil, repulsive, shoddy, worthless, and disdainable.
Not positive thinking
reThinking48 is not an exercise in positive thinking. We aren’t ignoring our world or trying to find a silver lining in every cloud. This is not an exercise to make us a more positive person, although that may very well come along for the ride. Neither are we trying to rewire pessimistic persons into optimists. To be honest, we need both. Optimists see the possibilities; pessimists see the hurdles to be overcome. Those of the optimistic bent will find it challenging to focus on truth instead of utopia. Those of the pessimistic variety will find it challenging to see value when there are glaring flaws. Our goal in reThinking48 is to see God’s hand at work in the people and the world around us.
I’m looking forward to where this study is going and hope that you are as well. There’s bound to be some surprises along the way. Perhaps an “aha” moment or two. There may even be a guest author or two that joins in. Did you notice the jumbled up colorless picture above? Let’s see what happens to it as our series progresses in the coming weeks. I wonder what the world will look like when our cataracts of doubt and fear have been removed? How about we find out together?