What is mindfulness? According to https://www.mindful.org,
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Mindfulness is, in a way, understanding the situation / environment we are in, and how our being (body, soul, spirit) is reacting (through interaction with others, response to situations) to it. What then, is Christian mindfulness? Christian mindfulness considers our identity in Christ (Jn 1:12, Rom 8:1-2, Matt 5:13-14 etc.) and affects the way we live and interact with others.
The Bible notes many examples of people who practiced Christian mindfulness. Paul said in Philippians 1, that “for to me, to live is Christ”, that Christ would be honoured in his life. Daniel prayed to God three times a day, even when it became life-threatening to do so. King David was called “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). Modern day examples of men of faith include Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection (author of “The Practice of the Presence of God”) and the recently departed Eugene Peterson (author of “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”). And standing in first place on the chart of examples of Christian mindfulness is, yes, you most probably guessed it, Jesus Himself.
How do we, then, practise Christian mindfulness?
Philippians 2:1-4 states, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my [Paul’s] joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Sounds difficult, if not impossible, doesn’t it? The fact is, if we try to do this by our own strength, we’ll most probably fall into depression and self-loathing with our repeated failures; and even if we “succeed” in doing so, we will likely fall into false humility and / or self-righteousness. Jesus gives us the answer in John 15:4-5, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
As Jesus promised in John 14:15-31, we have a real-time always present helper in the form of the Holy Spirit living in us. Galatians 5:16-25 talks about how living in the Spirit results in us not gratifying the desires of the flesh. Add to that the fact that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, always interceding for us (Romans 8:34), and our task no longer seems impossible.
I find it helpful to consider some questions on a regular basis:
- How does knowing the attributes of God shape my perspective of things that happen in my life?
- How does knowing God’s priorities for me (to love God with all my heart, soul, strength, mind, love my neighbours as myself, to tell others about Him) affect my daily behaviour?
- Am I willing to surrender my all to God, to seek satisfaction only in fulfilling His Will?
May you and I seek to abide in Christ, that we may produce much fruit for God’s glory!
By Simon Koh, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 25 August 2019)