“God does not want us to check our minds in the [church lobby] when we enter to worship. Thinking about our faith is not something to fear; it is a requirement. God has no use for lazy minds. What can God do with those who are content to remain forever in spiritual kindergarten and never progress beyond ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayers? The early Christians were tough-minded. They not only outlived and out-died [those who opposed them], the writings of the New Testament testify that they also out-thought them.”
–David Garland, theologian
I’m always intrigued by two kinds of people: (1) those people who view Christians as small-minded nincompoops and (2) church-goers who don’t do the necessary homework on all they believe–thus, reinforcing the views of the former. This increasingly popularized view of Christians is blow-torched on TV and in movies. We’re the dumb ones. The ones stuck in the 50s. We’re the idiots. We read our Bibles in one hand and Rush Limbaugh’s newsletter in the other. We’re hicks and only interested in which shotgun to take to the next NASCAR race we have tickets for. Not only is this view of us tragically untrue, it’s something we’re going to have to step up and show the world of its inaccuracy. We’re thinkers. We’re interested in the betterment of the world. And the planet.
Now, the world–deep down–knows we’re not hicks. (Who do they come to when they need someone to pray for the hole or the hurt they find themselves in from time to time?) They know we’re not hicks, but the standard of life that God calls us to in His Scriptures is a challenge for them to do. So instead of having the intellectual honesty to say that they’re unwilling to align their lives with the Christian way of life described in the Bible, it’s just easier and funnier to cast us as hicks. It’s a classic straw man. But, that’s OK. They’ll be perplexed and impressed when the straw man talks back.
In my experience, the wisest, most intelligent, and most even-handed people living life around me are Christ-followers. Now, we’ve got our own doozies to deal with in the Church, but who doesn’t? The Church is an invitation to all to come in as they are. This means we all enter our Christian faith in different–sometimes more elementary–places and phases. (This includes a constant evolution of how we think.)
But, Christ and His early followers taught us that everyday people–like dock workers and fishermen (Andrew and Peter), IRS agents and political zealots (Matthew and Simon), and even moody, brawling racists (James and John) can be transformed. This transformation will always include the changing of some part of our worldview. Thank God He is always trying to grow our minds. And the greatest evidence that God is real is growth. Positive change.