Our brains play tricks on us. Some of these tricks are scary.
For instance, how many times have you looked at something without seeing it?
Visualize the following.
Husband in the pantry, shouts to wife: “where’s the peanut butter!?” Wife: “in the pantry on the middle shelf”. Husband: “no it’s not, I bet you hid it again.” Wife sighs, gets up and walks to the pantry. “My darling (knowing smile), you are looking at it, look there it is, right in front of you.” Husband: (other husband, never me), that’s weird, how did you do that?
Did you take the red pill or the blue pill?
It’s all about perception, selection and the way our brains process information. The reason we look without seeing, is that we filter stuff through our preconceived ideas, – our Gestalt, – our Schemata. I will prove this to you shortly. First we need to ask, ‘is the status quo, the current Church gestalt limiting our walk with God?’ Can we believe our own belief?
The good news is that God wants us set free by knowing the truth. Knowing however implies thinking.
Do not be afraid to think, God gave us the greatest thinking machine ever, it sits between our ears, use it. Do not just accept everything you are told, even from the most trusted source, people make mistakes, its normal.
In order to think, we need something to think about. We need input before we can output. The problem is, our brains filter the input and distort the output. Just like the invisible peanut butter, we do not see what we are looking at, rather a censored version based on our filters.
One of these filters is called Gestalt. Gestalt is a Germanic word that means “tuned in” or status quo.
To demonstrate, look at the Wikipedia picture below.
Most people see a white sphere with black spikes like a medieval morning star.
In reality, there is no sphere, just differently shaped black spikes on a flat white surface. Our brain creates the sphere. This is a great example of Gestalt. Our brains automatically “join the dots” to make the input make more sense.
Here’s another trick. Look at your watch/cellphone for 3 seconds then look away. Do not look again. Whats the time? Is the time digital or analog? Does it have numbers, roman numerals or lines? What color eyes do your three best friends have? Do people’s eyes sit towards the top, middle or bottom of the head? You think you know stuff, but do you really?
This makes me nervous, I mean, what other tricks is my brain playing on me?
Schemata or First-Mention.
The “principle” of schemata or first mention explains how we build our gestalt. The theory is that we tend to filter things through our understanding of that thing when we first encountered it, regardless of how wrong or right it was at first mention. We also tend to build on that first understanding and resist any attempt to change it.
For instance, try telling a five-year old that Father Christmas does not live at the North Pole. Martin Luther experienced strong denial when he challenged Church thinking on salvation. Bruno was burned at the stake when he challenged Church understanding of the universe.
Lets test this theory. When you hear the word tithe, what is your first thought? Most people think money? The fact is that tithing in the Law-of-Moses had nothing to do with money. How do you feel about that statement? Denial? Confusion? Relief? Weather positive or negative, the point is that people respond when the status quo is challenged. This is good, it makes us think.
Click here for more status quo challenges to Church gestalt.
Our reality is therefore not as firm as we thought it was. Not everything we believe to be biblical is biblical. In order to find the truth, we need to look and listen differently because our gestalt may have flaws.
So which pill will you take, the blue pill or the red pill?
The noble-minded Bereans.
When Lord Jesus taught about the sower in Luke 8, He describes the good soil as those that listen with a good and noble heart. In Acts 17 we see this principle in action.
Paul escape persecution is Thessalonica by moving to Berea. In contrast to Thessalonica, the Bereans are described as noble-minded or fair minded. They demonstrated fair mindedness by neither accepted nor rejected Paul’s teachings. They first listed to him and then checked the scriptures. Only after they verified his teachings did they become believers.
Here we see maturity and intelligence leading to growth. The status quo was less important than the truth.
Based on their actions, and our Lords words, we learn that “good and noble” suggests the following:
- Listen without fear or superstition. Listening is not the same as believing.
- Do not accept or reject without investigation. Give it a fair chance. Proverbs tells us that wisdom is found among multiple counselors.
- Do not council only those that agree with you, inbreeding is icky and weird.
- Verify from scripture and by The Spirit.
- Try not to filter what you learn through your gestalt. Do not cling to the status quo. Very often the status quo is the vessel that got you to the next port of growth. You cannot grow unless you take the next journey.
Hopefully this approach is biblical and convincing enough to challenge your status quo.
The next step in using our brains is to understand how thinking works.
Click here to find out how thinking works.