Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

October 16, 2020 — Renewing of our minds

Today’s Bible reading

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. — Romans 12:1-3

More thoughts for meditation

Renewing of our minds

Evidence accumulated in the last three decades indicates that brain cells have greater capacity for adaptation and regeneration than was previously believed. This characteristic is generally referred to as neuroplasticity. This property of neurons allows for the connection between different domains of the brain, and thereby different functional components such as sensations, images, feelings, thoughts and bodily actions. This is popularly recounted in what has become known as Hebb’s axiom, in honor of Canadian neuropsychologist Donald Hebb: Those neurons that fire together wire together. In essence, the more we practice activating particular neural networks, the more easily they are to activate, and the more permanent they become in the brain. In his epistle to the church in Rome, St. Paul suggests that renewal is possible: I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 

It is fair to say that although Paul was not a neuroscientist, he refers to what we now see through the lens of neuroplasticity. Renewal of the mind, therefore is not just an abstraction. It means real change in real bodies. 

Suggestion for action

Try to take stock of how your mind is being formed by the patterns and thoughts of the world. It’s hard to do. We swim in information all day from the news, advertisements, social media and television. However, Paul says it is a transforming act to free our minds of these patterns, to instead focus on the Kingdom of God this fundamental truth – you are a child of God. No shame, bad acts or nonsense can take that away. Be renewed with that truth. 

2 Comments

  1. Art Bucher

    This is interesting. There’s also “mirror neurons” research which tells us that our brains collectively learn and change by spending time with others and paying attention to others. Spending time with God in prayer and serving and worshiping with others is a way to make positive changes in our brains.

  2. anita brown

    Excellent post. I have come to realize in my own experience that to come to the Father like a child is to come with the mind renewed to pre-adult childlike innocence. this is me having submitted to the memory of pain and trauma being excavated…I also refer to this as the ‘death of christ in me”. I do this mostly through my yoga and meditation disciplines

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