This week, I will let God do brain surgery on me.
Authentic love means thinking differently.
What’s the difference? If I get provoked this week — a donor disappoints me, a fellow staff member annoys me, a volunteer frustrates me — what makes me respond with grace? What keeps me from responding any differently than someone who doesn’t know God … beyond the natural way — the supernatural way? How will that happen?
It will be a process, and the process will start in my brain. That 3-pound organ inside my skull. We change, we grow, we come to respond differently and more effectively and more lovingly than we did before, by something that happens in our brains. The Bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” — don’t respond the ordinary way, the way a cynic might expect you to respond — “but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….”
“Your mind” is your brain. This Romans 12:2 transformation is not mystical … it’s medical!
A medical doctor can tell you about the toggle switch of the brain stem: the Reticular Activating System, or RAS. It switches back and forth between the cortex, which might be called the learning brain, and the limbic, which might be called the emotional brain. Many wrongly believe that the Christian life happens in the limbic brain; it’s emotional. And certainly, when we realize what Christ did for us, how much God loves us, the kind of life he makes available to us, it’s a thrill — we get emotional. It’s a rush. We tap into our emotions significantly during worship. Emotions are a vital part of our lives.
But love is a decision; authentic love is a conscious act of the will. Genuine love happens in your cortex! It’s learned. How I respond when somebody hurts me — I learn that. How I verbalize about somebody who did me dirty — I learn that. How I function as a member of the Body of Christ — I learn that.
The brain literally teaches itself by routing images and impressions along certain neural pathways, across certain synapses. If I want to think differently, I have to tell my brain to switch paths. When Romans 12:2 says “be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” it’s saying, “Live a different way — by the re-routing of the synapses in your brain.”
Synapse re-routing doesn’t happen by osmosis. It’s proactive. The Bible gives us action steps to take: “Do not conform…” “Be transformed…” If I can’t do it on my own — and I can’t — then I have to ask God to take charge. Do surgery on my brain! Let me think differently … and love authentically!
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… God, you know about the annoyances and frustrations I’m experiencing in my ministry. Please give me a new way of thinking — so I can love authentically. Amen.