Monday, August 17, 2009

Mindfulness in Action

Bernini's stained glass window in St. Peter's ...Image via WikipediaLittle children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action.  1 John 3:18 (HCSB)

Awareness of others will lead to mindfulness in action as the Holy Spirit makes us aware of others needs.  I believe that in Christian fellowship and relationship God desires that we focus on our own character (awareness of self) and others needs (awareness of others). 

In order to meet the needs of others it requires that we become aware of those needs.  We have to look and see what the needs are.  This also requires a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit will prompt you to others' needs that you might otherwise not be aware of.  This type of awareness requires a high level of responsibility though.  We cannot "love in word or speech," we must love "in truth and action." 

There are three important elements of effective action.  First actions have to based in sincerity, purity and grace.  Second, the primary motivation for our action is love.  Finally, fulfilling God's purpose in our life will lead to effectiveness. 

Sincerity, Purity, and Grace

For this is our confidence: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with God-given sincerity and purity, not by fleshly wisdom but by God's grace.  2 Cor 1:12 (HCSB)

In the DBT literature "Wisemind" is the integration of emotional experience and logical analysis to develop "intuitive knowing."  The goal of wisemind is to achieve a balance of feeling and reasoning to achieve this wisemind state.  Wisemind is often experienced in the as a sensation in the gut.  Wisemind is not Christian mindfulness.  Wisemind is inward "fleshly wisdom."  This can be dangerous for the Christian because "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh (Romans 7:18)."  Wisemind can (for the Christian) lead them away from "God's Grace"  I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with intuition or gut reactions.  The Bible has many examples of these type of experiences.  What I am saying is that relying on these reactions of "intuitive knowing" can lead to serious error and must be subjected to God and His Holy Spirit.

So what is Christian mindfulness in this respect then?  First it lies within our conscience.  God has given all humanity a moral sense that is called conscience.  When your conscience is filled with God-given sincerity, purity, and grace then it is a reliable source of intuitive knowing.  Note the source though.  It is God given.  It is His gift.  In Eastern mindfulness the source is within in a person, in Christian mindfulness the source is God. 

Sincerity is the singleness of purpose.  In this case the best interest of others.  We often do not mind engaging in seemingly altruistic behavior as long as there is a benefit for us.  This is a dual purpose and does not have a singleness of purpose that is captured by sincerity.  At its root effective action for the Christian is acting without regard for any ulterior motive.  This can be hard to do but it is essential for effective action.

Purity is similar.  It is acting genuinely.  Your motives and interests are apparent clearly understood by others.  There is no hidden agenda that you have.  You are acting above board.  This effective action allows you to put energy into the action over trying to keep your true interests and self hidden. 

Grace involves invoking God's favor for you and then turning His grace into your relationships with others.  You become a vessel or channel through which God's grace flowing to you, though you, into the lives of others.  God's grace is effective.  If you want to have effective action in your life then you have to allow His Grace to flow through your actions. 

Motivated by Love

Righteous Father! The world has not known You. However, I have known You, and these have known that You sent Me.  I made Your name known to them and will make it known, so the love You have loved Me with may be in them and I may be in them.  John 17:25-26 (HCSB)

There is enough material on the subject of love in the Bible to blog on the rest of my life.  Suffice it to say love is a very important subject.  Effective action is motivated by love.  1 Corinthians 13 has been called the love chapter.  I encourage you to look at the whole passage (Here is a blog on the subject).  I want to zero in on verse 7 as this verse to me gives the fuel to effective action.

[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13:7 (HCSB)

When we bear all things it requires in my estimation that we receive it from God.  That is not to say that God is the author of our suffering (remember Job), but that He is the Redeemer of our suffering.  God can take any event in our life good or bad and turn it into a blessing.  Do you believe that?  In this case effective action bears others in love.  Even when our flesh tells us to take revenge or to give up.  Notice the difference between what we tend to do (I put up with them) and what this verse says (I carry them). 

Believing all things is not the same as being blissfully ignorant.  It is an attitude that holds others in positive regard and sees their expressed thoughts, feelings, and beliefs as honest and reasonable representation of their true thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.  There is something that is incredibly validating when someone believes not just in your words, but in you as a person.  When a person can look at your shortcomings and still hold you up as worthy of their love, that is believing all things. 

Hope.  Without hope effective action becomes meaningless.  Hope brings meaning and purpose to our lives and to our action. 

Endurance of both things that are happening to you as well as completing the task before you are needed for effective action.  Endurance requires a certain degree of flexibility.  Without flexibility things break (ie they do not endure under the pressure). 

Fulfilling God's Purpose

Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Gal 6:2 (HCSB)

It is no accident that fulfilling the law of Christ is closely aligned with love.  Christ died for sinful humanity that he might bear our sin and remove our guilt.  We ought to die to self that we might bear another's burden and gently restore him/her to God.  This is "Christian" effectiveness.  It is easy to contrast with the opposite attitude which is unhelpful, harsh, punitive, judgment.  Generally speaking this sort of attitude pushes people away and does not lead them to repentance.  That is to say it is ineffective. 


There is much more I could write about effective action, but this post is long enough as it is.  So perhaps the Lord will allow me to come back to this subject in the near future.  God Bless you all.  I believe that you can be effective in what you do informed by God's word, empowered by His Spirit.