I have spent this last week probing deeper into thoughts I expressed in last week’s post specifically the difference in how I felt when I was keeping my Self as the focus of my thoughts compared to when I turned my focus to Jesus. The difference can be expressed by contraction and expansion which got me thinking about the presence of black holes in a universe that is expanding.1
Bear with me.
With my Self as the focus of my thoughts, I could feel my thoughts spinning tighter and tighter around this core of Self. The more I reflected on what I had done during the week, what I had said, what had been said-or potentially said-about ME, the smaller my thoughts became. I was quickly slipping into thoughts of poor me, people just don’t understand how difficult it is to live with pain and a brain injury, it isn’t fair for anyone to have such expectations of me, and then my mind wanted to dredge up every hurtful thing ever said or done to me so Self could brood over it. I am amazed at how my Self focuses on being a victim. I have had both good and bad things happen to me at every place I’ve found myself in over the years and yet Self focuses on the pain rather than the joys. I do not know why that is and, perhaps, is a subject I will tackle at a later time. While thinking about everything I’ve just written, I was reminded of black holes.
What is a black hole? According to NASA’s website, “A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out.2” This is exactly how I felt. The longer I had Self as my focal point, the more my thoughts were squeezed until there was no room for anything but Self. More than that, I felt it only right that because I had suffered in the past and continued to suffer, such suffering should be realized and recognized by anyone that came into my orbit. Black holes have what is called an Event Horizon. It is a boundary that marks the limit of a black hole and where the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. What this means is nothing that enters a black hole can get out or even be observed from outside the event horizon.3 Except, scientists have observed stars that have blundered too close to a black hole and the gravitational force rips the star to shreds.4
Hurting people hurt people. I have heard this quoted so many times in so many different places and who can deny the truth of it? How many times has a fellow human being blundered into my orbit, had no idea that I slept badly and have a blinding headache or am smarting from a cruel word spoken to me, and been ripped to shreds? How many times has it happened to me because my fellow human beings also have a Self at their core? While conducting this study, I came across binary black holes5 and was fascinated. Not only because they exist but because what happens when two black holes cross paths is an apt description of interactions between human beings. I’d like to write more about the gravitational waves of binary black holes but will have to leave that for another time. For the sake of this post, let me say that I have had to forgive and have had to ask for forgiveness.
What then? Are we doomed to damage others and be damaged in our turn? If left to ourselves, no doubt we would be. We are not left to ourselves! We see Jesus who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8, RSV).
I wanted to close last week’s post with Philippians 2:5 which in some versions is translated “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. The RSV says, “Have this mind” while the Phillips says, “Let Christ Jesus be your example as to what your attitude should be.” The New English Bible says, “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus” and the Amplified has, “Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus–Let Him be your example in humility–“. When I went to the Interlinear Greek, I found that the passage is literally “This think ye among you which also[was] in Christ Jesus”. I realized this passage was too massive to be used in closing and that I would have to do some study.
I looked up “mind” in the Strong’s Concordance and found there are 17 different Greek words all translated “mind” in various scriptures. This is why it is so important to study, not just read or memorize the scripture. Not all of these words mean the same thing yet our minds do not immediately grasp the differences because we read the same English word in every passage. Even the Greek word in the passage I am looking at this week, phroneo (G5426) is translated by different words in the King James Version: think, regard, mind, and savour to list those used most often. My point is, what we read in any of our English translations ought to be a jumping off point because there is so much more than first meets the eye. Okay, enough on the importance of study…for now.
The word “mind” in Philippians 2:5, phroneo, means “to exercise the mind, to entertain of have a sentiment of opinion, to be mentally disposed more or less earnestly in a certain direction…regard, savour, think.” This meaning is made clear by the rest of the passage. I recommend reading the entire epistle of Philippians for complete context however, for the sake of space, I will quote Chapter 2 verses 3 & 4: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind (G5012) let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” And then verse 5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”.
These verses are the expectation of our behavior towards others. If it is an expectation, it must be possible to live this way. How? Because of verses 6-8 which I’ve already quoted. And then, because Jesus did empty Himself, humble Himself, and was obedient unto death, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (verses 9-11).
Being a Self isn’t bad. I am created in the image of God who says of Himself “I AM.” So too am I capable of saying “I am.” The problem is when that Self seeks to usurp the rule over and be the center of my life. That place belongs to Jesus. It is His by right of His having created me but he doesn’t come to me as The Creator God and force Self to give way. He comes as Saviour. He comes as Redeemer. He comes as Love. He opens my eyes to see He has born my afflictions, my sufferings, and all my sorrows (Isaiah 53:4) and they are no longer my burdens to carry. It is His goodness that leads me to metanoia (Romans 2:4). I see Jesus in all His beauty and I choose to not only make Him the center but to turn over the rule of my life.
How could I do otherwise? I have experienced the mess of Self-rule and been mired in the pain and death it creates. I have tasted the fruit of the Spirit and the life contained therein. I abdicate. I choose life. I choose His life knowing that, ‘of the increase of His government and peace, there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7).
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptures are quoted from The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
- What Might Be Speeding Up the Universe’s Expansion? | Quanta Magazine
- What Is a Black Hole? | NASA
- event horizon | Definition & Explanation | Britannica
- Black holes caught in the act of swallowing stars | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org)
- NASA Visualization Probes Light-bending Dance of Binary Black Holes | NASA
The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984
The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprinted 1970
The New Testament in Four Versions, Christianity Today, Inc., Washington D.C., 1965
Strong, James LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990