Thursday, April 17, 2008

Greek or Hebrew Thinking?

Okay, so this book I’m reading for seminary has some really interesting stuff (and I’ve only read the first two chapters).

Here’s something I’ve thought about before, but never seen it explained this clearly – I hope I can do it justice in a relatively few words. The overall concept is how we view life. There is the Greek Mind-set (compartmental thinking) and the Hebrew Mind-set (whole living).

Our North American mindset is derived from the Greek mind-set which essentially puts things into “boxes” (compartments). We have our “home life”, “work/school life”, “recreational life”, “church life”, etc. We tend to keep these compartments separated. The problem is life doesn’t fit well into “boxes” and this creates conflict. As an example, if we are asked to work over time, our compartmental thinking immediately gets defensive because if our “work box” takes more time, that gives us less time for all of our other boxes. The more we try to keep everything in a box the more frustrated and stressed out we become. This also explains how an evangelist can get up and preach about immorality and then go hire a prostitute (it’s two separate boxes).

If we are going to grow spiritually, we must tear the sides of our boxes out and move toward the Hebrew mind-set which emphasizes a whole life centered on Christ. All of the areas of our lives (work, home, church, etc.) all flow from a desire to put Christ first. Interestingly, all of the men God used to write the Bible were Hebrews (except for Luke). So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find that the Bible is all about applying principles to our lives – our whole lives, not just certain parts (or “boxes”).

Here’s how William Yount describes the difference:
The compartmentalization of the Greek mind-set leads to personal anarchy. Each compartment takes on a life of its own. Various compartments compete for attention; compete for the limited amount of available energy. Live this way very long, and you begin to experience burnout and depression. This is not how God intended for life to be.

The Hebrew mind-set provides a basis whereby the components of our lives exist in harmony, centered in a whole personality, guided by the Lord. This “united kingdom” produces emotional and psychological health, energy for facing life’s problems, and a positive direction for living.


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