Occasionally, I’ll hear someone confess that it’s “hard” being a Christian. The hard part usually boils down to the challenge of saying No to temptation, or the pain of being rejected by fashionable people. Sure, stuff like that is tricky. But I believe that the biggest difficulty of walking with Christ is the part about speaking the truth in love. Sometimes, it’s hard to accept the truth when the world believes the it’s idiotic or even destructive. And when I finally dare to utter it, the truth tends to come across as offensive and “in your face” because I have delivered it in anger or self-defense rather than love.
The Christian brain operates differently than an ordinary human brain. For example:
- A Christian brain is aware that it’s software has been corrupted by sin; warped by a short-timer’s perspective in an world that cycles in centuries; and confused by temptation. Hence, pure reasoning is usually insufficient for effective problem solving.
- The mind of a believer cries out for some objective truth to counter all the subjective emotionalism generated by the warp and woof of living in 21st Century America. Rather than simply enduring a diet of cultural sugar, my brain craves the nutrients and fiber that come from God’s Word.
- In the face of a challenging situation, there are dividends I can reap when I refuse to respond instantly out of reflex. Instead, I slow down, open up my mind to the Holy Spirit, and allow him to breathe some insight in the midst of my typical, hyper-active, do-something-even-if-it’s-wrong approach to life.
We’re all familiar with the mode of thinking you might call “secular humanism.” In this viewpoint, God may or may not be real, but either way, he’s not a factor. Then there’s another mental construct you might call “theistic humanism.” That is, God is active and real, but his wisdom is largely limited to those important but invisible realms we call spirituality or religion. In other words, “We can figure out science by ourselves.” In contrast to both those worldviews, believers operate from a mode of thinking you might call “Christian theism.” That is, we believe that the only reliable truth or interpretation of the truth available to us is from God, who is not only real, but is central to all of life.
Skeptics would say, “Oh! So you Christians believe you should check your brains at the church door.” And I would reply, “No, we believe it’s important to use our brains. I apply my intellect to comprehend what God’s Word says. Then I further apply my mind to understand the lessons of biology, history, and physics. Then I invite the Holy Spirit of God to give me the power to apply the truth, and the patience to pause until the fog lifts and other things become more clear.
It takes a lot more brain power to be a Christian because I can’t simply settle for reflex answers or personal insults. I am called to know the truth, apply it to the situation at hand, and then communicate it with compassion. Advocates and atheists can settle for slogans and insults. Disciples of Christ are directed to speak the truth in love.
Lift up the Cross!