Sunday, July 04, 2021

Making your mind up

Propers for the fifth Sunday after Trinity

Sermon for the fifth Sunday after Trinity

St Peter says, "be ye all of one mind."

Now look at the people around you. Look at the people you meet today, at those whom you met yesterday or are planning to meet tomorrow. Would you like to have the same mind as them?

Is St Peter actually encouraging us all to think the same as each other. Are we not allowed to have our own individual thoughts? Is St Peter's Church a church for the brainwashed and thought police?


There is a great fear among some of us today that we are all being forced to think in a particular way. There are those inside the Church who are expecting persecution from Society for not thinking the right thoughts about various social issues. And there are those outside the Church who think that the Church will unleash the Holy Inquisition on those who do not believe in the right way.

To be honest, History shows that both cases have been true. There have been instances when members of the Church have forced their mind on people through fear and ferocity. There have been instances where the Church has been forced underground because of an oppressive political regime or a massive social reaction.

We still see that today, in both directions. And in both cases, there is one central principle: the human mind is not to be allowed to deviate from the mind of the ruling group.

It means that there are some who wish to deny you the very right to think your own thoughts so that they can have things their way. It is a denial of your humanity.


Notice that God does not want to force us to believe in Him. If He did, there would be no other religions, no atheists, no heretics. That is not what God is like. In His incarnation, He takes up a human will, a human mind and a human body to be distinct but completely inseparable from His Divinity. For God, even the risk of the chaos caused by sin and death in His Creation is not enough to stop Him creating us with our own individual minds and personalities.

And St Peter tells us to be of one mind?

How oppressive!


If we think that then we are missing the point of what St Peter is saying. He is asking us to agree, not telling us to think the same. He is asking us to be considerate of others, to be kind, compassionate, merciful and loving. All of these respect the dignity of another's being, just as God still loves with the same passion those who turn from Him.

St Peter asks us to agree on what is central so that the Church can thrive by introducing people to the true Christ. We see this already as the Church agrees that Gentiles can become Christians. We see that the Church agrees that God has revealed Himself through the Creeds and Church Fathers. There is agreement, there is one mind so that we can be of one mind. This is the mind of the Church and it is given to her by the God's revelation of Himself to all mankind.

But what if we don't agree? Admittedly, the track record there is not good and there have been too many stakes and gibbets. We have to be compassionate enough to allow people to be wrong though we must protect others of the harm that comes from this wrong.

A bishop is free to preach that there is no God but the Church is also free to declare that he is wrong and deprive him from preaching: he has removed himself from the mind of the Church. He is no longer of one mind with the Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He should be reasoned with but not burnt at the stake. He may not preach until he repents but he should be allowed to repent through his own free will and be received back with love, kindness and generosity. For his part, he must publically recant his heresy and proclaim the Faith in all honesty and sincerity.


The Church has obtained a reputation for brainwashing. While she allows people to choose how to live their lives freely, even in sin, she cannot be accused of brainwashing, for brainwashing allows no freedom of choice. However, to be of one mind with the Church is to be of one mind with Christ and this means we want to hear Him, to repent of our sins, to surrender our lives in the service of His will in truth and love of God and neighbour.


We choose to be of one mind with the Church. She presents the facts of God the Holy Trinity as far as they can be known. She is organised to preserve this unity of mind through the Scriptures and the Church Fathers. 

Alternatively, we can choose not to be of one mind with her but this means that we love our own mind more than Christ.

But, whether we choose God or not, He will still love us regardless. But He loves us so much that He will allow us to walk away from Him if we want to. Do we really want to think about what happens then?

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