Friday, January 6, 2017

New Thought Patterns

“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…” Romans 12: part of verse 2

I have heard a lot of twisted ideas in ministering among Muslims. Sayeda wants her husband to beat her or get angry. To her that means he loves her. Bushra holds off putting her faith in Christ because if her dad is in hell she would rather be there with him. Amal, a secular cultural Muslim, concluded that to follow Christ meant she could not enjoy sex, drink beer or have a big house. Azizeh, another secular cultural Muslim, desired to go to disco bars. She wanted to go as far as she was religiously permitted before it would be considered haram. Rahima shared with me that when her country was having elections for a new president all the children were kept out of school for a month because of the possibility of getting caught up in fighting and shootings. She remarked, “I love that system. The children are protected from the shooting.” I told her, “Better yet if there would be no shooting or fighting surrounding an election.” She did not get it. Crooked twisted thought patterns often manifest themselves around the subjects pertaining to: genders, social and dress rules, meat, morality, abortions, politics, religion, heaven and hell, God’s character, punishments/justice, spiritual disciplines, what constitutes sin and what true forgiveness is.

Muslims who decide to follow Jesus have many twisted thought patterns which need transforming; especially in regards to a new faith which is more about relationship than rituals and traditions. What does it mean to live by faith rather than by sight? All of this needs to get re-wired. Living according to the mezan weighing their good and bad deeds needs to be transformed. They need to have their thought patterns transformed about fearing the evil eye and judgment.  New thought patterns of not living by the laws of haram and halal will need clarification. A major transformation of thought patterns will revolve around new praying, the Jesus-way of forgiveness, and understanding grace. New thought patterns of understanding God's attributes need transformation. Women need to understand that removing the hijab is not synonymous with inner spiritual freedom. Inner spiritual freedom goes much deeper than removing the hijab. Male/female dynamics need a major healing and transformation. Some believers who live in the West need new thought patterns that they are safe and under the laws of our nation rather than continue to live secretly or as if still in hiding.  

It's amazing how twisted thought patterns can take root. They can be embedded in society, in the Church, in missions, and in us. In a past era it was considered spiritually noble or even required by God to sacrifice your children when you serve God. It was wrong to spend money on anything except that which promoted the gospel. I have had to personally work through many crooked spiritual thought patterns of my own. Perhaps that is why I am quick to pick up twisted thought patterns among my Muslim friends and new followers of Christ. We all have some. They are just different from each other. I understand the complexities and challenges of having our minds renewed by understanding truth. Behind my computer desk is a large jumble of wires. I don’t dare touch them because they look like a mess to me. I will not know where to hook some particular wire into if I pull them out. Only someone knowledgeable about all those wires can sort them out to make my computer work right. Sometimes when I hear about twisted crooked thought patterns I picture this jumble of wires. I know only the Holy Spirit is knowledgeable and can rearrange healthy thought patterns which are aligned to truth. Thankfully, God has given us His Word, the Bible. I find that the more I read the Bible, the more the crooked, the twisted, and the ambiguous is made straight. The “wiring” gets rearranged. It is so important to use the Bible often when we speak with our Muslim friends or disciple new followers of Jesus Christ - and for ourselves, too.

Dear heavenly Father, please keep transforming my mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.