For as he thinks within himself, so he is. (Proverbs 23:7a)
One of the meanings of the word paradigm (pronounced pair-uh-dime), is a pattern or map for understanding and explaining certain aspects of reality.
Our paradigms are the concepts we have at the center of our lives that affect our perception of everything around us. Our paradigms govern our beliefs, our attitudes and our behavior. A compilation of all these form our values, which reveal the real us to the world. Our paradigms are like maps that guide us through life, influencing every decision we make.
We have paradigms of people, of ethnic groups, of nations, of political parties, and on and on. Some of the most important paradigms are the ones we hold of ourselves. Unfortunately, these paradigms are mostly structured by other people's responses to us. It's unfortunate because most people find it easier to criticize and judge, rather than to praise and support.
We often have a distorted picture of ourselves that amplifies our negative characteristics, and limits our effectiveness. That is why we need our minds renewed as we progress in our walk with the Lord (Romans 12:2). It is also why salvation is a progressive walk. It has to be worked out progressively in us, and that occurs only as we let God do the work. If we let Him, He adjusts our paradigms (Philippians 2: 12,13).
When we say, "I'm not very creative," or "I could never do that," we reflect our distorted paradigms, probably based upon the input of those around us from the time we were born. Negative programming imposed by others limits our accomplishments. But more important is that they limit God.
Limited paradigms of Christians is a great threat to Christianity. Many Christians devote their energies to just hanging in there until the Lord comes. The impotence that traditional attitude generates is devastating. A disciple must break with tradition and liberate himself. He must plead with God to open his spiritual eyes for him to see his real potential.
It is no good simply to add God to our present life. We must change our paradigm, our point of reference, away from ourselves and focus on God and the fullness of His potential through us.
If we wish to make a personal contribution to the kingdom, we can't wait until we feel capable. We may be the most capable, talented, proficient person known to man, but we can't contribute one drop of anything meaningful to the kingdom of God. Only God does that, and He does it through any willing vessel.
We are stewards of the most precious resource God has given us...ourselves. And we are stewards of the greatest power God has given us...the power to choose. We weren't designed by God to be victims of His enemy. God's intention was for us to relate to Him in a most personal and productive way, exactly the way Jesus did while He was on earth.
John the Baptist said, "He must increase!" (John 3:30). As we concentrate upon Jesus through the Word and in prayer, He increases. His words begin to relate to everyday circumstances in our lives and it becomes easier to focus upon Him rather than upon ourselves.
Through this process we grow less important in our own eyes. Our paradigms shift. Others influence us less. We begin to contribute to the kingdom. Tradition means less when compared to our new relationship. Our behavior is consistent with our belief. Our practices align with our principles. Our commit-ment is real and we are usable.
Disciples are always ready for a paradigm shift. Change is uncomfortable, but a disciple does not move on feelings alone. He moves on commitment based upon decision.
"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:21).
Jesus is King!
P.S. What are you doing of eternal value?
Question for today: Am I mired in my concepts or am I allowing God to renew my mind?