Not long ago Annie Dillard wrote, “Strange seizures beset us.”
By seizures she meant motifs.
Ideas that haunt [whether for good or bad] a writer.
For me, those themes boil down to this: the mind, death and persuasion.
In our culture, anti-intellectualism dominates.
Death is feared.
And persuasion is reframed to mean “manipulation.”
What is a Christian to make of these three topics? Let’s explore.
A Sanctified Mind
I love learning. I love facts. I love knowledge. And doctrine. But there are enormous problems with a “cold, speculative, unsanctified head-knowledge of Christianity.”
It’s bound to feed you enough rope to hang yourself.
That head knowledge must be sanctified. And your mind must be matured in Christ because the mind is important to God. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”
The moral: Use your mind to love the things of God.
In the book of Romans Paul writes, “Do not any longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
In other words, your mind must be dominated by the Spirit. Romans 8:6 says, ”For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Only then can we understand spiritual truths. Only then can we make sense of heavenly wisdom.
Even in the Old Testament we see an emphasis on the mind: God said to Isaiah, ““Come now, let us reason.”
It takes a mind to reason. A mind nurtured on biblical truths. Mature in spiritual wisdom. Your mind has a purpose. It’s to be worked out. For Christ. Use it.
A Sanctified Death
Susan Cheever said, “Death is terrifying because it’s so ordinary. It happens all the time.”
Perhaps this is why Kierkegaard said that death is the single most important philosophical topic known to man…
It is knowledge that separates us from God. We must make meaning of it.
Yes, death is a metaphysical issue. It goes beyond the physical. But it is real. And it haunts humanity.
An unsanctified mind might treat death as a sleepless demon bent on ruining your life. Or a bony clown who can drink you under the table.
For the Christian, though, death is stripped of it’s power to terrorize.
John Wesley, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 15:55, said about death, “Thou art now robbed of all thy spoils; all thy captives are set at liberty.”
In the end, death is the gate to the garden of our Lord.
A Sanctified Persuasion
As a writer, I’ve got a particular investment in being understood. And getting people to believe me.
That means I appeal to reason. I use wisdom. Much in the same way a lawyer tries to persuade a judge that a person is innocent.
Like the mind, persuasion is a tool we MUST use for the cause of Christ. But first it must come under Christ.
An unsanctified mind will pervert persuasion and use it to seduce and deceive. To accumulate wealth and conquer woman.
To push God-denying ideas.
Before Christ, I adored the mind. Was spellbound by death. And toyed with persuasion to gain an advantage on other humans.
After Christ, these things came under Christ. But that doesn’t mean they lost their allure to tempt in unbiblical ways.
To pride. To fear. To greed.
I’m still dogged by the baggage of being an intellectual snob. Occasionally haunted by death.
For whatever reason, these are my motifs. Topics I churn regularly. In the end, whatever I write will be used to glorify God.
What I wrote before Christ will glorify by demonstrating his justice and judgment on a deliberate rebel.
When I write after Christ, I will glorify him by demonstrating his mercy and faithfulness, power and glory.
So tell me, what themes possess you? What haunts you? Dogs you–whether good or bad? How have you seen those things sanctified after conversion?
Looking forward to your thoughts. Brutal and all.