If you want to become a thinker you must first think about this....
"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Most of your average water cooler conversations are steeped in simplicity on "this side." You have heard them, and you have participated in them:
- "Dude, who are you going to vote for?" ... "No one man, all politicians are greedy pond scum." .... "Yeah, you're right."
- "Debbie, why aren't you dating?".... "Because all men are idiots!" ... "Yeah, you're right."
- "Hey Honey, try a bite of my lobster." ... "Nah, I hate all sea-food." ... "Yeah, but you have never ever tried sea-food." ... "So?"
When it comes to faith and belief, most people you talk to are thinking on "this side" of complexity. Rarely in your average conversation will you find a person who has evaluated religious ideas with complex thought. More and more these days, thinking is nothing more than reaction. People are trying to make an impression on the listener rather than logically communicating. Celebrities are masters at this kind of "this side" thinking. When asked about Jesus and God, listen to some of these "cool" responses:
* Brad Pitt: "I'm probably 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic; I don't think anyone really knows. You'll either find out or not when you get there, until then there's no point thinking about it."
* Angelina Jolie: "There doesn't need to be a God for me. There's something in people that's spiritual, that's godlike. I don't feel like doing things just because people say things, but I also don't really know if it's better to just not believe in anything, either."
* Elton John: "From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."
Now, Elton John has a point. Sometimes religious people are "this side" thinkers too. And Christians who have never really wrestled with the complexity of what the Bible says, or sees no necessity for doctrine or theology, or sets legalistic rules and standards to control people, can only react. These kinds of Christians are doing a great disservice to the wonder of knowing Jesus. For instance, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of "Eat, Pray," Love") calls herself a Christian. But her's is not a "thinking" Christianity. Just listen...
“Culturally, though not theologically, I’m a Christian. I was born a Protestant of the white Anglo-Saxon persuasion. And while I do love that great teacher of peace who was called Jesus, and while I do reserve the right to ask myself in certain trying situations what indeed He would do, I can’t swallow that one fixed rule of Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God."
So, let's get this straight, she is a Christian but she does not believe anything Christ says about himself (John 14:6)? Does anyone see the contradiction? Before you write her off, you must realize she is listened to and read by millions. In fact, she is going on a speaking tour in October with Oprah Winfrey and Rob Bell. People are being suckered into "this side" thinking every single day.
If you are a Christian, learn...to...THINK!
In this Sunday's sermon on John 7; Nicodemus says something all aspiring thinkers must take very serioiusly: “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” In other words, before you come to any sort of conclusion about Jesus, God, or any important issue for that matter; you must work through the complexity to get to the "other side." On the other side is wisdom, genius and maturity.
That is why our court system operates with the principle of "innocent before proven guilty." It gives the judge and jury time to hear and evaluate the evidence...and so should you! This is even true when you talk about sports, chick flicks and sea-food. Don't write something off until you give it a fair hearing.
This may be one time I completely agree with Jim Morrison of the "Doors": We must do all we can to "Break on Through to the Other Side!"