By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
The phrase “Christ consciousness” sounds like something good to achieve as we’re growing spiritually. But what does Christ consciousness actually mean – and is that state of mind the same as the mind of Christ in the Bible? It’s important to learn the meaning of Christ consciousness in order to align our spiritual goals with what Jesus Christ really taught about consciousness.
What Is Christ Consciousness?
Christ consciousness is a type of spiritual awareness that is supposedly on the same level of spirituality as Jesus. It claims to be full spiritual enlightenment that humans can achieve on their own, by trying hard enough to be wise and loving, and eventually becoming one with all that exists. In his human life, Jesus achieved the highest state of mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity, the Christ consciousness concept says. By following Jesus’ example, people can develop the same consciousness as Jesus and can use that mindset to help them do anything they like in the universe, according to the Christ consciousness belief.
People who say they have attained Christ consciousness say they can see life from the same perspective that Jesus has, and that helps them appreciate how everyone and everything is connected in God’s love. God’s love does indeed pervade creation, and God has designed every part of the universe – including us – to be connected in a wondrous system. But as created human beings living in specific times and places that are limited, can we really have exactly the same mindset as our Creator who knows everything? Can we truly enlighten ourselves, apart from trusting Jesus to help us?
Is Christ Consciousness Biblical?
Christ consciousness is not biblical, despite how holy it sounds. Jesus himself never speaks about Christ consciousness, and the Bible never mentions it. Instead, the Bible discusses how we can have the “mind” or the “mindset” of Christ. That is completely different from Christ consciousness. While both concepts emphasize looking to Jesus for understanding, they represent different ways of thinking. It’s vital to understand the distinction between them in order to truly experience spiritual growth.
How Do the Teachings of the Bible Differ from This?
The Bible emphasizes the importance of a relationship with Jesus, rather than trying to grow spiritually through our own efforts alone. Spiritual enlightenment doesn’t come from work itself, the Bible says. Instead, enlightenment happens by connecting with Jesus, the Light of the World. We can learn how to think like Jesus, the Bible teaches. However, we can’t actually become exactly the same as Jesus, as Christ consciousness claims. The Bible says we can develop a mindset that aligns with Jesus’ wisdom, so we can live our best lives by making the best choices. However, that happens as we walk day by day in a relationship with Jesus – not through our own efforts alone.
Unlike Christ consciousness’ claim that we can save ourselves by achieving our own enlightenment, the Bible says it’s vital for us to connect with Jesus to be saved. John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus serves as much more than just a good example of how to think, as Christ consciousness emphasizes. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the world’s Savior. Jesus empowers us not just to think well, but to connect with God for eternity.
People who have relationships with Jesus “have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2:16 says. The prior verses make it clear the way that happens is through the Holy Spirit’s work – not through human efforts: “… no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:11-16).
Thanks to the Holy Spirit living within us, we can align our attitudes with what Jesus values. The Holy Spirit empowers us to develop specific attitudes that reflect God’s wisdom. Those attitudes are known as the “fruit of the Spirit”: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23). Two chapters in my book Wake Up to Wonder describe how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to develop these attitudes – and how doing so leads us to experience awe along the way. As we work with the Spirit to change how we think, our perspective on every situation becomes clearer, so we can notice and appreciate the wonder of God’s work around us.
It's only by cooperating with the Holy Spirit’s work in our souls that we can renew our minds, to align our thinking with the mind of Christ. Romans 12:2 urges us to renew our minds spiritually: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Philippians 2:5-7 encourages us to pursue Jesus’ mindset in our relationships with other people: “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Although Christ consciousness claims that Jesus is just a good moral teacher to follow, in reality he is much more than that. Jesus doesn’t only set a good example for us; he actually empowers us to achieve a healthy spiritual mindset. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” Jesus tells us in John 15:5. Just like the branches of a plant must be connected to a vine for the power to live and bear fruit, we must be connected to Jesus in relationships to be saved and fulfill the purposes for our lives.
We can achieve spiritual enlightenment, but not in the solitary way that Christ consciousness describes. The Bible says that the way to achieve enlightenment is to connect with Jesus, the Savior who is the ultimate source of light. Jesus declares in John 8:12: “… I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
So, while the phrase Christ consciousness sounds at first like something noble to pursue, it doesn’t truly lead to spiritual growth. Instead, developing the mindset of Christ – through the Holy Spirit’s help in a relationship with Christ – is the way to grow spiritually. We don’t need to try to change our thinking on our own. Jesus himself is ready to help us do so day by day!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Natali Mis
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.