Monday, December 22, 2008

Have Christians Lost Their Minds? Part II

In this age of digital information, it is also nearly impossible to isolate our loved ones from ideas (even harmful ones!) They are just a Google search away.

What we can do, however, is to boost up our spiritual immune system by being informed of these ideas first and equipped to evaluate them from a biblical perspective. The strategy is not retreat into a cultural ghetto, but cultivating a robust Christian worldview that understands and engages culture. When the church provides thinking tools that empower our youths, they will learn how to detect faulty arguments and dismantle irrational assumptions on their own. By training them what and why Christians believe, we intentionally raise up a generation of confident, conversant and winsome ambassadors for the Kingdom. An informed faith prepares us to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:16)

But if we neglect the discipleship of our minds, we easily absorb materialistic values or hedonistic practices from popular movies, songs and novels without even knowing it. Our witness of the gospel would also lack boldness as we succumb to the temptation to either withdraw from or compromise with the world. Since the gospel is public truth (not merely private experiences), Christians have a responsibility to speak sensibly in the public square where crucial issues of life are discussed and decided.

Today, there is an urgent and serious need for us to explore how the church as a redeemed community in the world responds to racism, inter-religious harmony, economic disparity, the spread of infectious diseases, ethics in biomedical technology and so on. We cannot address these burning issues in our Malaysian society without faithfully and diligently applying our minds to connect God’s word with God’s world.

How then shall we recover the Christian mind? Here are some brief suggestions:

• Help the laity to integrate biblical faith with their vocation. Discipleship classes should also tackle unique opportunities and challenges they face in the marketplace as a lawyer, artist, businessperson, teacher, healthcare workers etc.

• Encourage healthy reading habits by stocking up the church library with solid resources that stimulates the mind and create interest with regular book reviews.

• Preach well-prepared sermons that help the congregation to read the Scriptures themselves, not merely packed with entertaining how-to advice.

• Does our youth ministry educate students to think Christianly about the subjects they learn in school or colleges? More than games and songs, they may need to discern what’s true, beautiful and ethical expressed in these disciplines.

• If we have evangelistic courses like Alpha or Christianity Explored, small group leaders could be trained in apologetics so they can handle frequently asked questions from seekers with humility, confidence and knowledge.

Can you imagine what the transformation of our spirituality and witness in society looks like when our minds are regularly renewed with such practices? It is a lifelong project that requires lots of energy and time, but the effort will be worth our while.

And you’ll never know when a curious young believer may approach you with questions about the book of Genesis and the last dinosaurs!

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