For you have in mind not the things of God! This is a pretty strong statement that Lord Jesus makes while criticizing Peter for his lack of understanding regarding the mission of Christ on Earth. The following verses give more details about this conversation.
31He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He spoke to them openly. Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33But he, turning around, and seeing his disciples, rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you have in mind not the things of God, but the things of men.”(Mark 8, 31-33)
The disciples have been with Lord Jesus for more than three years, they had witnessed all the miracles that He did, learned all the things He taught concerning the Kingdom of God and even received power to perform miracles in the name of Christ.
Yet, their minds were not opened to the things that mattered the most to the Kingdom of God. They could not comprehend anything about the Divine Nature of Christ nor His heavenly mission on earth.
In their mind Lord Jesus was a prophet or Rabbi with unusual powers to perform miracles – just like many of the Old Testament Prophets of long ago; and they expected Him to live and die like normal human beings. But for Lord Jesus it was a different story; He knew His time to leave the earth is coming closer and wanted the disciples to be aware of the events that will unfold very soon.
Unfortunately, disciples misunderstood the whole thing and Peter even started to rebuke Christ for His willingness to suffer and die and his advise came into direct conflict with the mission and interests of Christ. So, He rebukes Peter and points out that – he did not have the things of God in his mind.
Lord Jesus might have been a bit disappointed with Peter on this occasion because, despite being with Him for such a long time, his words did not reflect a heart that is filled with the things of God. Despite learning so many things from Jesus about the Kingdom of God, Peter still held on to his worldly perspective of life. His mind was still filled with the things of this world.
This is true not just for Peter and the other disciples but even for us. Even though, we call Jesus “LORD” we never allow him to be the LORD of our lives. We still walk like the world and talk like the world. Our desires and aspirations are same as the unsaved ones out on the streets. Our primary goal in life is not to fulfil our calling and God’s purpose in our lives but to accomplish what we have planned in our minds for this earthly life.
Once we become disciples of Christ, He expects us to have a complete conversion in our life, a complete transformation in the way we live; a complete change in our focus and priorities. unfortunately, this is not happening in the lives of majority of Christians.
Many of the Christians, who claim to be born-again, have not experienced an inside-out change in their lives. Their hearts are still filled with jealousy, many of them still treat their fellow-human beings with disdain and disrespect, they still compete with others for power and positions and still enjoy the same movies and worship the same celebrities.
Many of these Christians walk, talk and dress like their favourite celebrities. There is no role for Christ in their lives; instead of imitating Christ, they imitate their favourite movie stars.
If Christ had a conversation with any of these Christians, He might still say the same thing – For you have in mind not the things of God!
Well, the next question comes – As born-again believers, as disciples of Christ – what are the things of God that we need to keep in mind?
The things of God are the things that matters the most to God’s heart. In other words, things that are important for Him. The things that He loves. So, let us examine some of these things.
1. Willingness for Self-sacrifice
As you know Jesus came into the world with the purpose of offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of this world. He came into this world with the mission of giving his life as ransom for many; to deliver them from the coming wrath of God and to ensure them a home in his heavenly kingdom. This indeed is the most supreme form of self-sacrifice a human being can offer to save others.
But Peter did not understand this heavenly truth; so, he started rebuking Christ for being willing to perform this extreme act of love for others which was according to the Will of His heavenly father.
In John 15 Lord Jesus says:
From the above verses we know that – Lord Jesus lived out what He taught on the streets and He expected His disciples to follow His example.
Unfortunately, we, who claim to be His disciples, do not have the willingness to sacrifice our desires, aspirations and hopes for the sake of our fellow believers or even for our own family members. I am not talking about extreme sacrifice of your own life for others but doing at least simple things like sacrificing a few meals or few hours for the weak and the down-trodden in the church or society.
Contemporary Christian world has become more self-centred and inward-looking than ever before. Even within the church only a few are willing to share and care for others. In many parts of the world believers are struggling to find three meals a day while in some parts of the world believers are living in luxury. Even within the same congregation we could see this contradiction.
Even some of the prominent Pastors are spending millions on building new, fancy, luxurious church buildings while some of their own congregation members are homeless; they might be even finding it hard to earn enough for three meals a day.
The funny part of all this is – these Pastors and Leaders claim to do these things in the name of Christ and for His kingdom – Really?
2. Practising Mercy, Justice and Faithfulness.
God’s Holy Laws reflect the things that matters to God the most and prominent among them are Mercy, Justice and Faithfulness. In the verses given below in Matthew 23 we see Jesus asking the Pharisees to give more importance to these things.
The pharisees of Jesus’ time were preaching and teaching about the Law but they did not give any importance to putting them into practise in their own life. They did not walk according to what they taught others. Lord Jesus saw this contradiction and teaches pharisees not to neglect these very important matters of the Law.
23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23, 23)
However, when we, believers, read Matthew 23, 23, we might think only pharisees were guilty of not practising Mercy, Justice and Faithfulness but that is not the case, we are also equally responsible for not practising the same.
In fact, if Lord Jesus stands in the midst of us right now, He might say the same thing to us as He said to the pharisees. Though we call ourselves the spiritual descendants of Abraham we don’t practise many of the important commandments of his God.
Saints, let me ask you very frankly – How many times have you been reluctant to show mercy to your fellow human beings including the ones in your own congregation? How many times did you close your eyes in the matters of justice? How many times have you treated your own spouse and children in unjust manner? How many times have you been unfaithful to your own family? These are things that Christians need to reflect on and make corrections wherever it is necessary.
We call ourselves religionists but we practise religion in its most impure form. See what apostle James says in the following verses:
3. Standing for God’s Righteousness Despite the Cost.
Yes, Righteousness and Justice are the foundation of God’s throne. His kingdom is built on the foundation of His righteousness. We, as His children, should live a righteous life by obeying his Commandments and also should be willing to defend that Godly Righteousness whenever and wherever it is necessary.
Unfortunately, Christians have seriously neglected matters related to God’s Righteousness. In the contemporary Christian world, many of the believers and leaders are guided by the righteousness of this world and not the righteousness of God. As a result, they have committed many grievous mistakes in their ministries and personal lives that really displeases God.
Even Pastors and believers alike have started calling many of the evil things “Good” and many of the Good things “evil”. The main reason for so much in-fights and divisions in both families and congregations – is because of our unwillingness to stand for the Righteousness of God.
If you really care about the Righteousness of God – then, why you mistreat your spouse and Children? Why do you ignore the needs of your own elderly parents? God is not pleased with your Sunday worship and offerings as long as you live in willful violation of God’s righteousness.
21“I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5, 21-24)
In the above verses God Almighty is speaking to us through Prophet Amos and we need to listen to him. Of course, standing for God’s righteousness in the present perverted world is not easy; it comes with a cost. But, as believers, we should be willing to pay that cost.
4. Hating Things that God Hates.
Yes, when we start hating things that God hates, our hearts will become free from the corruption of this world. Our priorities in life will change and we start loving the things that God loves. According to the Word of God. Once a person is in Christ, he is a new creation. See the verse below:
If you really have been born-again as you claim – then, you should be a new creation. But this is not the reality, many of us still love the old sinful pleasures of this world which God hates. We still watch the same Hollywood movies and imitate the same superstars.
We still enjoy the same things that we used to enjoy. We still hold on to the values and principles of this world that are abominations in God’s eyes. If you have been made alive in Christ; then, you need to set your heart on things above; not on things below. You should not be part-takers in the pleasures of this sinful world; instead, you should hate them. See What Apostle Paul says in the following verses:
3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. a 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 5, 3-7)
As a new creation in Christ your life should reflect this change; the focus of your life should be on things above and not on things below. See the following verses.
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your a life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3, 1-3)