There is a stubborn belief out there, and by “out there” I mostly mean in my own head, that the way we change is by changing our thinking. This is a half-truth, maybe not even a 50-50 split, which means if we pick up on the wrong half we can get into trouble.
It is an undeniably attractive belief. If we can just change how we think then we can change anything or everything about ourselves. The problem is . . . it isn’t true. If you want to challenge this statement I enter as evidence the Self-Help section of any bookstore. If reading and new knowledge “fixed” us, we wouldn’t need so many self-help authors and their books. The last year I could easily find any statistics for was 2020 when “over 45,300 new self-help books were published.”* Wow.
I have been helped in this area quite a bit by Fr. Richard Rohr who says something like “we don’t think ourselves into different behaviour, we behave ourselves into different thinking.”** Our Philippians passage sits in the tension of the half-truth mentioned above. Paul says we change our bad thinking by thinking about better stuff. It might be a bit of a stretch to call this changing by doing but I think I make an adequate case for it in the sermon. As always let me know what you think, especially if you think I got something wrong.
* https://blog.gitnux.com/self-help-industry-statistics/ accessed October 15, 2023.
** This occurs in so many places in Fr. Rohr’s writing that I can’t find it, if that makes any sense 🙂
PS If you are looking for a Knox Presbyterian sermon the congregation was officially dissolved last Friday, October 13, 2023. I preached the last sermon and it is available on this site.