Sunday, November 29, 2009

Power to change ourselves

Have you ever heard anything like this: "I used to be greedy, selfish, tormented, impatient, and cruel, but by studying psychology I've become generous, loving, kind, and peaceful"? Of course not! Psychology can certainly help us understand ourselves and others and thereby become more tolerant, and it's certainly provided models and techniques that have helped people overcome OCD, phobias, and other problems.

But we face problems far beyond psychology's reach: "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, spending our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another." (from Titus 3). As Karl Marx almost said: The psychologists have only interpreted the mind in various ways—the point however is to change it.

How can we address those problems? We can't do it on our own, but we can get help. Jesus Christ said that "the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). The word translated "repent" means to change our minds. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Practically, here are a couple of my earlier essays with "simple" 3-step programs to overcome anger and anxiety. They take 20-30 years and may need to be repeated. But they actually work:

I believe it is these practices -- the spiritual (or soul) disciplines, that will change us. Insights are helpful, yes, but knowledge alone isn't enough; we need the power of God to effect change in us.

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