Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24
When I was younger, the amount of input we received from our culture was smaller, and it took more time. I remember television being essentially 3 or 4 channels, some number of newspapers, and letters and conversations from family and friends. Timing was also much longer. It might take days or weeks for information to make its way to us through one of these pathways. It seemed easier to control what we saw and heard. There also seemed to be a little more balance with the stories conveyed. I know I have my own perspective, and some might recall things differently (especially during the latter stages of the Vietnam war), but this is what I remember.
Today, however, we literally have minutes-old (sometimes seconds-old) information in our hands. Technology allows what used to be limited, which allowed for processing time, to be unlimited, causing a sense of urgency. Information we wouldn’t have known can inundate us now, which can drive us to being full of fear or anger (or both). Allowing the input we experience every day to cause retreat to old ways is not hard to do. As a matter of fact, it’s the easiest thing to do.
Being new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) gives us the Almighty to call on for calming fears (Psalm 34:4). Our companionship with the Holy Spirit is our bulwark against anger, and many other things (Galatians 5:16-21). Just as Paul declared his own weakness to reflect the power of God (2 Corinthians 12:10), God’s power can be reflected through us in our own weakness. If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking “easy to say, difficult to do,” and you’re correct! It is hard – our fallen nature battles against the spirit (Galatians 5:17)! The way to overcome this battle is to realize freedom comes with surrender.
Just like me, we’ve all experienced this inundation of inputs driving us back to our old ways. Taking these things captive can mold our minds to be particular in our listening to inputs in the future, focusing on the healthy and not hurtful. One way to elicit that response is to realize when they’re either happening or going to happen.I do this by physically listing those times of success or failure when I’ve been drawn back to old ways. If this is a struggle for you, perhaps making a similar list for yourself can help you.
By Rich Obrecht