It's worth the thought, I promise.
In his brilliant little book, How to Think, Alan Jacobs pulls back the curtain of a forbidden knowledge that is embedded in many of our communities. “It’s the tale of a community, “ Jacobs says, “that provides security in exchange for thought, and the courageous member of that community who, daring to think, sacrifices the security.” To you, that might sound obscure, or even irrelevant, but you might be surprised how often this compromise lingers in our communities.
C.S. Lewis, who went from outspoken atheist/philosopher to devout Christian/activist, risked his reputation, friendships, and personal livelihood when he made his conversion to the Christian faith.
Megan Phelps-Roper, former member of the the notorious Westboro Baptist Church known for their hate-speech and aggressive picketing, walked away from everything she knew about people, the world, and God when her eyes were opened to a new understanding of love and grace.
Saul of Tarsus, who grew up as a devout Jew and became an even harsher defender of Yahweh was transformed after an encounter with Jesus; Saul stepped away from everything that he knew and from the community we was most familiar with to step into a new reality Jesus had painted for him.
While these are extreme examples, this phenomenon happens more subtly in each of our lives. From bullies advocating for the bullied to a woman leading as CEO of a company, these are individuals who took risks, sacrificed full acceptance, and pursued what they believed was right and just.
These are all instances of people who began to “think” by its most appropriate definition. It’s likely that you consider yourself a “thinker.” You consider options, you try to make objective decisions, and you come to conclusions that you believe to be fair. Yes?
Reality check: the majority of us spend little time actually participating in the “thinking” process. Sure, we brush the surface of consideration and we genuinely believe we, for the most part, come to fair conclusions. However, most of this is merely us blindly following our preconceived thoughts and opinions.
This is a point worthy dwelling on.
Often times, good thinking will take us to where we are least comfortable; it will cause us to consider views that are starkly different than our own. While good thinking takes preconceived thoughts into consideration, it does not immediately seek to land there, and there are many of us who are not okay with that.
Here is my point:
Before C.S. Lewis converted to the Christian faith he did not believe he was wrong in his conviction and decisions. There was a reason he was not a Christian before, because he thought it nothing more than a load of lunacy. So, he had to think.
Megan Phelp-Roper entered the Twitter world as a “fag-hating, justified Christian” and believed that whole-heartily about herself . . . until she didn’t. So, she had to think.
Saul of Tarsus threw Christians in prison and killed many of them because he believed with everything that he had and knew that he was right and they were wrong. Never would he imagine that he would find himself advocating for Christians. So, he had to think.
While “thinking” does not always lead to life-altering decisions like these, it has to power to do just that. When we learn to think, it introduces us to a world that is nothing like the one we live in in our own head. Like opening a good book, thinking has a way of transporting us to a dimension where we have no established home, but we become a wanderer in our own mind and heart.
Jesus was a thinker. He had a tapestry of thoughts regarding the Kingdom of God and how it was making itself known in the world. Throughout his ministry, Jesus released his transforming thoughts to all those who would listen to them, and it changed them. That’s the power of thinking: it not only has the power to dramatically change me, but others. Good thinking is contagious, like listening and crying. It has a way of transcending beyond the space between our ears and out into the world.
Good thinking brought Jesus to the dinner table with traitors, liars and cheaters who loved eating with him. Good thinking brought Jesus to a Samaritan well where he talked with a sinful woman and introduced her to a new way of life. Good thinking brought Jesus to Jerusalem where he would flip tables, get into heated exchanges, and predict the future of the temple. Good thinking brought Jesus to the cross.
Sometimes thinking does that. It leads us to where we do not want to go; it take us to places we are least comfortable.
So, where is that place for you?
No seriously. . .think about it.