We as a people desire control. We want to control of situations, control of our finances, control of our child or children, control of our significant other, we want to feel in control. Control, according to Webster, is “to exercise restraining or directing influence over” or more simply to influence the outcome of… To control the outcome of an experiment we simply take away certain elements to limit the outcome. Or more simply we limit the possibilities by controlling the variables that can influence the outcome. To define this further consider this, if we want people to believe a certain thing or things to be true, we simply remove evidence of other possibilities so the logical conclusion is unanimous. An example would be; if I’m buying a car the sales person may not point out certain negative things to influence my thinking that this is a good purchase. So he exercises control over his presentation of these items depending on his desired outcome.
Notice though, that he only has control over HIS presentation and not the decision itself. He can’t control what I think or decide, he can only control what/how he presents himself and the car I’m considering. If we understand this we can see through the presentation and make an unbiased decision doing our own due diligence. The term “caveat emptor” is Latin and means “let the buyer beware”. In other words PAY ATTENTION! The word “behold” appears in the bible over 1600 times. The word behold means PAY ATTENTION in modern English. Or more accurately it would be like using a bullhorn to make a point. Using the bullhorn would be loud enough to get the point across for you. What the person using the bullhorn is saying could be ignored, but you’d hear them saying it regardless. When this method is used in the bible something significant is being announced or shared.
The point here is that control is ours if we decide to exercise it. But we only really control our own mind. If we control our own mind we can, to a certain degree, control our bodies. We have ultimate control of what and how we think. If someone else has influenced our thinking we’ve allowed them to “take control” of it. The term: “I don’t know what I was thinking” implies that we’ve allowed someone to influence us. In order to be our own person we have to control what influences us. The decision to allow the influence is control in and of itself.
Part of how the New Testament came to be is an exercise in influence. A bishop at the meeting in Nicaea in 325 A.D. (known as the Nicene Creed) decided which writings were heresy and which were not. In that, he decided what would be included and what wouldn’t for the New Testament. In this way he’s influenced our believing by limiting the available information to what he deemed worthy. There were over 50 “gospels” written over a 100 year period. All but 4 (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) were ordered burned or otherwise destroyed. While some of them may have been considered “out there” even by our standards, we no longer have the ability to decide one way or the other. Some scholars speculate that some of the writings were legitimate (legitimate meaning written by first hand witnesses), but we have no way of knowing since most no longer exist. Future generations of thinking was controlled or influenced to the end that we have little choice in what to believe, whether what’s left is accurate or not.
As evidenced by I Corinthians the early church had issues as we do to this day. They had sects of Christianity to the extent that even the apostles didn’t agree on everything. Differing beliefs of why Jesus was here caused divisions among them. If we look at what we do have we can clearly see evidence of this. They disagreed on who Jesus was, some of what he taught and whether he’d really even existed in some cases. What we were left with was 12 men and 2 women that didn’t always agree on what had happened. They allowed their pre-Jesus religious beliefs and laws to influence them. And since their laws and beliefs clashed so did the early church founders opinions. While the 12 swore allegiance to Jesus while he was among them only 2 were present at his trial and 1 at his crucifixion, the other 2 present were women. The 2 women were present in both the trial and crucifixion. So the women stayed by his side to his death, probably risking their own lives in the process. But where were the men? How Judas was found later may be a clue to that.
Our information on this has been controlled so we draw a consensus conclusion. I believe if we dig deep into the bible and beyond we discover amazing truths. Truths that haven’t necessarily been hidden but maybe just made to be not so obvious. By digging deeper and asking questions God can show us what we need to see if we decide to not be controlled. A good teacher doesn’t give the student the answers, they help the student find or see the answers for themselves. Then when test time comes they don’t need the teacher’s help, they simply recall what was taught. We learn in one or more of three different ways. They are Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic. We either see it, hear it or feel or do it. A good teacher recognizes which of these methods a student is prone to and focuses their attention on that method for that student. The teacher doesn’t control their thinking; they teach them HOW to think instead of WHAT to think.
The serenity prayer used in AA and NA goes as follows:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Let’s break this down. The word serenity means state or presents of mind, so;
God grant me the state/presents of mind to accept the things I cannot change (i.e… other people, the way they think and/or what they do);
The courage to change the things I can (my decisions, what I do with and/or how I treat my mind and body, how I view myself);
And The WISDOM to know the difference.
The key to this is the wisdom to know the difference. Once we understand what we control, our mind, our body, we can take control. Taking control empowers us. When we take control of our mind and body we also take responsibility. When we take responsibility we become productive/contributing members of society with no excuses. At the very least we prove that taking control of one’s self and being responsible for our own actions is possible and can be rewarding. Wisdom is one of the 9 manifestations of holy spirit (I Corinthians 12) or evidences of the presence of holy spirit within a person. So to realize and exercise this wisdom is proof of being born again.
In Conclusion; we only have control over our own minds. It may appear that we have influence over others, but we don’t have control. The very act of one deciding to be influenced is an exercise in control. It merely appears that control has been given. That decision is ours as individuals. I encourage everyone to take control of your own mind. It is our ultimate privilege and responsibility to ourselves. Romans 10:9 says: “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…”. The keyword here is YOU. We each have the control to make that decision for ourselves. In fact, that decision can’t be made for you, YOU have to confess it. To make our own decisions on what we believe is a privileged. Even if we’re wrong in what we believe, controlling our own minds keeps the control where it belongs. Decide to take control, decide what you believe and stand on it.