The classic comic book villain is a tragic story of misplaced power. Take, for example, the Fantastic Four’s arch-enemy “Dr. Doom.” Victor von Doom was born to gypsy parents in Europe whom were killed when Victor was very young. His entire growth was marked by the machinations of evil men. Victor became a scientific genius, motivated by a desire to change the world and make it a place free from the kind of upbringing he experienced. But the more Victor grew in intellect and power, the more he discovered he did not have enough control of the world to effect real change. While working on an invention that he believed could free his mother’s lost soul from the netherworld, the machine literally blew up in his face and “Dr. Doom” was born – an iron masked man signifying his new iron stance toward the world and covering both the actual and emotional scars on his face. Dr. Doom returned to Europe, took over his native Latveria and sought to, in essence, destroy the world and remake it in his own image.
A serious God-complex for sure! Yet without the mind of Jesus Christ even our best attempts to make a difference in this world not only fall short, but actually damage others. We absolutely and totally need the mind of Christ. The Spirit of God works through the Word of God. 16th century pastor and theologian, John Calvin, repeatedly instructed and encouraged his Geneva congregation to not separate the Word of God from the Spirit of God because it is the Holy Spirit who illumines truth to us. It is the Spirit who joins us to Christ and assures us of salvation and grows us in confidence through the Scriptures. Calvin, who I am convinced was a genius, did not, like Dr. Doom, rely on his intellect or abilities but insisted we need the Spirit’s witness in order to mature as followers of Jesus.
We gain the mind of Christ when our minds are filled with God’s Holy Word. So, we must be careful about what we put into our minds. In order to have the mind of Christ, we must receive the Spirit of God through believing that Jesus died on the cross in order to save me from my unmanageable life and circumstances. We need to be immersed in the Word of God. When we believe we have the power to change within us, we simply use the Word of God as the frosting on top of the cake or the extra sugar on top of the cookie – it makes things better but I really did all the work of baking. Instead, we need to be like pickles – absolutely and totally and completely immersed in salt water. Cucumbers do not become pickles by sprinkling some salt and vinegar on the top – cucumbers become pickles by being soaked in the stuff. We need the mind of Christ, and to have the mind of Christ we need to be soaked in the Word of God because the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to bring lasting spiritual truth into our lives. In other words, there is no real change apart from God’s Word. Wisdom for our lives comes through the Spirit of God using the Word of God.
It is a mystery to us how this actually happens. Pastor H.B. London recalls an experience he had with a young couple with their first child at the hospital. “I stood by helplessly as one doctor spoke. “Your baby has died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We want to give you a chance to hold your child before we take her.” I watched this young couple; their shoulders shook with emotion as they held their firstborn for the last time. My mind raced to find something to say to the shocked young couple. I wanted to tell them that everything would be okay, but that wasn’t true. Their baby was gone. I began, with words that were broken and slow, “I don’t know why this awful loss has to come to you. But I know God loves you as if you were the only ones in the whole world to love. If you accept his love…if you believe he does love you, you’ll make it. If you don’t, you won’t.” Those were the only words I had for them. They seemed awfully empty at the time. I choked back my own emotions while they tried valiantly to cling to their faith. But something happened in that hospital room. Neither the couple nor I had words to erase the pain. A Holy Presence invaded that place. God joined the three of us. Just as in the Old Testament story of the fiery furnace, when God himself came to comfort Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we felt in the fiery trial of suffering an assurance that God was caring for us. One day, after coming to Focus on the Family, I received a letter with a picture of this young couple holding a beautiful baby. They wrote: H. B., you probably don’t think we heard you when you encouraged us to cling to the love of God when our baby died. But we heard you clearly. So we have believed over and over that God loves us as if we were the only ones to love. We have learned to live in the love of God. We quote your words to each other often. The Lord is gracious. Notice in the picture we are holding a beautiful new baby—God’s special gift to us. We don’t understand why we lost our first child. We still hurt when we think about it, but we have come to rely on God’s Word and God’s Spirit….”
Some tough situations are mysteries beyond our comprehension, are greater than our answers, and bigger than our attempts to change our circumstances. They are mysteries that stretch our faith and force us to turn and cry out to God and Christ’s church for help because we are powerless to manage our lives and our emotions.
We absolutely and totally need the Holy Spirit of God. We absolutely and totally need the mind of Christ. Without them we are lost, but with them we experience the saving power of Jesus and his cross to deal with everything in our lives. Soli Deo Gloria.