You may have seen it. In the critically acclaimed motion picture A Beautiful Mind, actor Russell Crowe played the part of real-life Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. Paranoid schizophrenia overshadowed Nash’s mental brilliance for a time, but with dogged determination he fought back that terror of mental illness until he regained his beautiful mind.
As a pastor I’ve counseled many with mental illnesses and a few with paranoid schizophrenia. In their lucid moments they desire a return to full sanity. They want to have a sound mind, a beautiful mind.
What’s your mind like? Do all your synapses fire in logical sequence? Can you quantify reality, then add, subtract, multiply and divide until you come to good and reasonable conclusions? Do you have a beautiful mind?
Most people think they do. But most people are wrong. They have only half a beautiful mind, and it is corrupted by sinful thoughts—a form of spiritual insanity.
You see, as human beings we have a natural mind composed of our brain working in conjunction with a nonphysical component God gave us that the Bible calls the spirit of or in man. Scientists who don’t believe in God disagree with this explanation because they don’t accept anything outside the physical realm.
Within Christianity many think the nonphysical or spiritual element is an immortal soul. But they’re wrong too. The Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4 Ezekiel 18:4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
American King James Version×). A soul that can die is mortal, not immortal.
The spirit of man enables us to comprehend and reason far, far beyond the smartest animals. “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11 1 Corinthians 2:11For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
American King James Version×). A great gulf of intellect separates people from animals. We do have amazingly beautiful minds, but even with this unique spirit our minds are not complete.
God made us to need the other half of our mind that will add spiritual comprehension. “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (same verse). In short, we all need God’s Holy Spirit to complete the beautiful mind. This part of God’s mind can be with you before conversion (as it was with the disciples—John 14:17 John 14:17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
American King James Version×) but is given to be in you sometime after you reach the age of maturity and only when you ask God for it.
That asking begins with two commands of Jesus Christ: “Repent, and believe …” (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×). When you activate that inner mental change of mind coupled with positive changes in your behavior, then the Bible says you need to go through the ceremony of baptism (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×). It is at this moment that God actually gives you His Spirit, thus providing the completing part of your personal, converted, beautiful mind.
But what defines such a mind guided by the Spirit of God and Christ? How is the truly converted mind in a young adult both beautiful and vertical?
Develop the mind of Christ
The most beautiful mind in the history of the world was the mind of Jesus. His was and is the ideal, the best, the brightest. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×). Whatever way He thought, we should strive to think.
So what was Christ like? How did He think? Does such a beautiful mind ever laugh and have fun, or is it always soberly serious? Let’s explore how your mind can reflect the mind of the Messiah.
People are intrinsically selfish. Self is the greatest problem this world faces.
Selfishness retards your thinking. Especially in our age of materialism and preoccupation with looks and image, most people don’t think past their own skin. They don’t think about others. Self-absorbed egotism is not beautiful.
The beautiful mind loves its neighbor as itself and loves God above all else, including self. That was Christ’s outlook—outgoing concern for others. That made Jesus interested in people, and not just the pretty people. He walked and talked with the regular folks and the celebrities of the age alike. He helped them, sought to know what they thought about things, taught them God’s truth.
Thinking past your own epidermal layer opens your eyes to truth too. We all love to be around people who think about others. The beautiful mind makes it a point to become that kind of person.
The great American humorist and author Mark Twain once added his own punch line to a scripture: “Man was made a little lower than the angels … and he’s been getting lower ever since” (compare with Hebrews 2:7 Hebrews 2:7You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of your hands:
American King James Version×).
Racked with grief in his personal life, Twain was plagued with a negative mental outlook as he surveyed the plight of human history. He was remarkably realistic about the direction of human life—that man would ultimately bring about his own destruction. Twain had an amazing, creative mind but he lacked God’s Spirit, and thus lacked the beauty of positive thinking.
The beautiful mind can see the positive future beyond human failings—even our own. The beautiful mind can see the Kingdom of God coming to the earth. We all face trials, reversals and troubles, but the upbeat power of the Holy Spirit working in our minds persistently carries us through to God’s green pastures and still waters.
Christ’s beautiful mind in action spoke the night before His Passover date with destiny: “In Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
American King James Version×). We can overcome too.
How big do you think? During His human ministry Jesus thought big. Really big. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7 Philippians 2:5-7 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
American King James Version×), As a man made in the image or form of God, Jesus set His sights on returning to life in the family of God as God’s own Son. And He wants us to be His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:10-11 Hebrews 2:10-11 10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version×; 2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×). Think of it—to make the jump from mundane to divine! That’s the biggest goal you can set for yourself.
Many successful people live goal-oriented lives. They seek new and greater challenges, but most don’t have a handle on the greatest goal of all.
God’s Spirit also helps you set intermediate goals in your life now and helps you consistently deduce the right course of action. When you have a big, beautiful mind, it requires maintenance through regular daily prayer and Bible study. And if you don’t yet have this mind, why not develop a good prayer life now so you’ll be preparing to receive it?
As John Forbes Nash descended into paranoid schizophrenia, he increasingly lost sight of reality until he was institutionalized. In moments of clarity and discernment he then began to reject the “voices” in his head, to ignore them as he climbed back to functional reality and mental acuity.
This is an inspiring story that in many ways echoes the muddle this world has fallen into. The more modern society rejects the knowledge of God, the more it loses even its limited grasp on the reality of the spiritual dimension of the holy angels, the unholy angels (demons) and God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Before mental beauty comes through God’s Holy Spirit, the world is our reality.
After conversion our beautiful minds can comprehend in ever-increasing depth the reality of what God is doing in our lives and in the world—past, present and forever.
This translates into the ability to recognize right from wrong, sin from righteousness. It helps us to reject, for instance, the “voices” that tell us premarital sex is okay, and to see that God made sex for the expression of love only in heterosexual marriage to one’s own mate. What percentage of young people today can discern even that?
The beautiful mind discerns the right from the wrong and, by an act of will, does the right and rejects the wrong. The beautiful mind seeks the reality of the Kingdom of God and rejects the spiritual insanity of this world.
Small minds in newspaper advice columns sometimes ask when it is all right to lie to their mate, kids, boss, friends, the government, etc. In contrast, the big, beautiful mind basks in the light of truth in all aspects of life. Lying is not a part of its vocabulary.
Sir Winston Churchill once commented on an English politician’s relationship with truth: “He occasionally stumbled over the truth but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”
The beautiful, converted mind always improves when it stumbles over unnoticed truth. Always personally honest, it’s willing to be taught by the great or small, by circumstances or experience. But you have to be ready for the lesson of truth. Churchill recognized that challenge: “I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”
Focus on the Father
The best has been saved for last. Just what is a beautiful, vertical mind?
The most beautiful mind in history, Christ’s, was also the most vertically aligned. He constantly looked to God the Father for life and spiritual energy to face His daily tasks and trials. Jesus prayed with great depth of feeling. He fasted, read the Scriptures and kept the Sabbath and God’s annual festivals holy. And He gave the Father the credit at every turn.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19 John 5:19Then answered Jesus and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also does the Son likewise.
American King James Version×). As beautiful as the beautiful mind is, it becomes powerless without daily, personal contact with the Father and Son. The beautiful mind must also go vertically. “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2 Colossians 3:1-2 1 If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
American King James Version×). John Forbes Nash wrestled with severe mental illness to regain control of his mind and the beauty of sanity. His brilliant mathematical career began in 1947, but he won the Nobel Prize in 1994. Thus his end was greater than his beginning.
Your quest for a beautiful, vertical mind will lead you to a wonderful, eternal future in God’s Kingdom. Can you see it? VT