Using Our Brains- Look, See, Pray

(One of the offices of the Codebreakers at Bletchley Park.)

Brains are given for more than keeping our ears separated. Occasionally one meets people who disprove this generalisation.

I’m not easily offended or aggravated, but I will make an exception if I am pushed. (This proves I still have room for growth and an increase in maturity, but sometimes, some people…)

Today I noticed a Facebook post that expressed the opinion that Christians don’t need to think or study, or more heinous still, do theology. A cackle of laughter escaped my mouth before I took control. Apparently all we need to do is read the Bible and do what it says. Fine, fine, I’m all in favour of reading the Bible and obeying what God says. It’s just that after 53 years of consciously following Jesus (and the previous 12 years of childhood growing into an understanding that God was real) I have to say that the Bible is not quite as easy to grasp as I used to think when I was young!

As a voracious reader, I have devoured an uncountable number of books (including big thick ones meant for clever folks. They let me have a go!). Some have been interesting, a few life-changing, and a number just OK. Others a bit duff. Reading like this has enriched my faith, challenged and stimulated my thinking, and given insight into God and His ways. The “Library of God” that we call the Bible has been essential reading: studying the Word and reading books about it, written by passionate believers and some very wise and devoted men/women of faith, has been and is a part of my life.

Over thirty years pastoring local churches has been an amazing and mostly wonderful time. Alongside real people trying to work out faith in the real world, the prospect of bringing a message as a Proclaimer of God’s eternal Truth requires plenty of study, a big dose of humility, and an awareness that what I say needs to feed, nourish, encourage, challenge and maybe correct the hearts and minds of the worshipping congregation. If all I can offer are trite platitudes and cute oratorical tricks, I waste my time and theirs. I would also upset God and take His deep, deep Love for granted.

I needed the brains God gave me. I am deeply grateful for the wisdom and learning of those Christians who helped me. Without the Holy Spirit, even my best endeavours would have been fruitless.

Those who have spent and are spending a lifetime in devoted and Spirit-guided academic and practical study are gifts to the Church, to be appreciated.

Don’t get me wrong- there IS a clear and simple Good News from God to the world: it is Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, who died on a Cross and was raised to Life- for us. But we could talk for HOURS about each of those words, and not exhaust the awesome wonder and depth of God.

So then, the post on Facebook… dear fellow believer, I don’t doubt your sincerity, but God gave you a brain to think with, not just to keep your ears apart. Jesus calls the WHOLE person- physical, mental, spiritual- and asks us to love Him wholeheartedly, and to love others in the same way. And as a well-educated theologian, Paul of Tarsus stated: we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind. (I guarantee if anyone reads “Romans” seriously they will need to THINK as well as quote favourite verses from the obvious bits.)

Why have I written this? Out of my own frustration at Christians who miss out and sell the Gospel short. Will the person who caused me to steam read this? I don’t know. I’d rather have a gentle face-to-face discussion. But maybe a few people who read this may be encouraged or inspired to think their best for God and the church.

Finally, why the photo? What is to “Look, See, and Pray” about? It’s an office. Yes, in Bletchley Park, where the Codebreakers used their brains, their education, and their sheer dogged persistence to crack the codes of the Nazis and shorten the war, saving countless lives.

They could have just recited the encoded messages without using their brains. I wonder how that would have turned out?

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