What was the last thing you really thought about? I don’t mean obsessively worrying about who’s getting the rose, and I don’t mean a couple minutes deciding which pants to wear, but when was the last time you deeply contemplated something of substance? Something that matters…
I love wrestling with ideas, but I have to admit there are some days when I just don’t really think much. Days when auto-pilot seems to be fully engaged… In a chapter called The Better Man Lost in Ordering Your Private World, Gordon MacDonald points out the dangerous consequences that develop when those days stack up.
“In our pressurized society, people who are out of shape mentally usually fall victim to ideas and systems that are destructive to the human spirit and to human relationships. They are victimized because they have not taught themselves how to think, nor have they set themselves to the lifelong pursuit of the growth of the mind. Not having the facility of a strong mind, they grow dependent on the thoughts and opinions of others.”
This is grossly evident in how most of us interact with news media today. Read a few headlines… Repost the ones that reinforce what we already think… Label as fake the ones that are contrary to what we already think… Unfollow the friends who disagree too much or too often… Repeat… Without ever understanding what the “news” really means. We can walk away feeling well informed about whatever the current topic is, but we’re really not. Headlines aren’t meant to inform, they’re meant to grab attention. When we give a little attention, but not enough to dig into the topic at hand and THINK about it… we remain worse than ignorant about what’s really going on.
This isn’t just about headline skimming and fake news, though. It’s about mental growth. We are called to love God with all our mind. Since God is infinitely more than my mind can fathom, this requires me to work to expand my mind if I’m to have any hope of loving Him as much as I think He deserves to be loved. Paul urged the early Christians in Rome to avoid getting stuck in the patterns of the world, but to instead “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that they would know how to figure out what God wants.
Want to know what God wants? Stop and think! Let Him transform you by filling your mind with His Word and thinking about it deeply. Seek out other healthy mental food to stretch your mind. Find some friends that you can discuss life with who don’t always see things the same way as you do and learn to disagree in healthy ways that bring life to both sides. Read books you might not agree with and think about why you don’t agree.
Let God transform you.
MacDonald ends the chapter with a quote from Oswald Chambers,
“I hate to meet a man whom I have met ten years ago and find that he is at precisely the same point…”
I have to confess that there have been a few periods of my life where I would have been that guy. Coasting. Getting by on natural talent or relational capital or whatever… (Hopefully not for 10 years running, though!)
I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t think you want to be that guy. So let’s stop and think… about everything.
I’m digging through Ordering Your Private World over the next few weeks and sharing some thoughts. Would love to have you join me. How’s your private world? If your inner life is a little ‘out of order’, how is it going to get better? Maybe this can be a start…