There’s a common and unfortunate misconception in our culture that religion in general—and Christianity in specific—requires very little brainpower. I suppose people assume that since religion is all about believing that it doesn’t have anything to do with thinking. But they are just plain wrong. Your faith should make use of all the thinking skills you have! In the book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes, “…because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are ‘good,’ it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding…as St. Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’ He wants a child’s heart, but a grow-up’s head.”
There seems to be a cultural stereotype that says atheists and agnostics are more intelligent than those of us who trust in a higher power. Colleges and universities across the country are filled with those who deny or reject God, so those of us who believe in God feel as if we must be a little bit dumber. But that’s simply not true—don’t believe it! If anything, it’s much easier to just say, “There is no God” (the atheist) or, “There may be a God, but I don’t know for sure” (the agnostic) than to say, “Yes, there is a God and I know his Son.” Psalm 14:1 tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” It is foolishness—not intelligence—that denies the evidence of God and suppresses the truth.
C.S. Lewis goes on to write, “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.” God has given you a brain a reason—he wants you to use it! If you thought it was okay to slack off when it comes to thinking—think again! Ephesians 5:15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise.” As followers of Christ, we must grow in wisdom and understanding just as we grow in love and hope and peace.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the areas God wants your brain:
Thinking About Him
God wants you to use all your intelligence to grow and learn about him. He wants you to think about who he is and what he’s like. He gave us the Bible to reveal himself to us. It is full of secrets and treasures waiting to be explored. Ephesians 5:10 says, “find out what pleases the Lord.” He wants us to figure out what he’s like and what he wants from us. He wants us to use our brains to discover him.
Thinking About The World
God took great care in creating the world we live in. He’s a master artist. Every artist speaks through his or her artwork. God wants us to explore the world and discover what he is saying through it. The Psalms, for example, are filled with King David’s observations about the world and what God is saying through it. This takes attention, meditation, critical thinking and exploration.
Thinking About Others
God also wants us to use our intelligence to find out how to serve and bless those around us. He wants us to think about what pleases him in serving them. He wants us to seek to understand others, to think about what it is that they need and how we can meet those needs. He also wants us to be wise in watching for wrong ideas that people have—including those that lead Christians astray and those that keep non-Christians in bondage. He doesn’t want us to be spoon-fed by our Christian leaders—instead, he wants us to critically think about the things we are taught and take them back to his Word to find out if they are true. God desires for all people to come to him and he uses us to reach them. We must not only use our hearts to love them, but also our brains to come to understand them, encourage them, and persuade them to the truth.
God requires every ounce of your intellect, creativity, and critical thinking. He wants you to grow in wisdom and sharpen the abilities he’s given you so that you will be prepared for the tasks ahead—you never know when or where he will use them.