31 days: Thinking requires effort

‘Thinking is great work.’ But hard work.  I talked recently with mothers who are grieving the loss of their teenagers’ attention – though sitting in the same room, they lose them too often to the screen of a device, and struggle to call them back into real time and real, physically present and engaged interaction.  We don’t have any easy answers to heal this plague, but over these coming days, I want to think hard about the subject, and to think biblically.  God has a way to redeem it all, but we’ve also got some hard work to do.

For a book that was first published in 1984, the classic ‘Ordering your private world’ by Gordon MacDonald is nevertheless extremely relevant to our issues with digital today:

Thinking is a great work. It is best done with a mind that has trained and is in shape just as competitive running is done with a body that has trained and is in shape. The best kind of thinking is accomplished when it is done in the context of reverence for God’s kingly reign over all creation. It is sad to see great thinking and artistic work accomplished by men and women who have no interest in uncovering knowledge of the Creator. They think and innovate purely for self-aggrandizement or for the development of a human system that assumes it can get along without God.

Some Christians appear to be afraid to think. They mistake the gathering of facts, doctrinal systems, and lists or rules for thinking. They are uneasy when dealing with open-ended questions. And they do not see the significance of wrestling with great ideas if they cannot always come up with easily packaged answers. The consequences are a drift toward mediocrity in personal living and mental activity and a loss of much that God meant for His children to enjoy as they walk through creation discovering His handiwork. Life under such circumstances becomes amusement, function without thought.

The unthinking Christian does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The challenge for the modern Christian in a secular society may be to ask prophetic questions before there is going to be an opportunity to provide Christ-oriented answers.

Sometimes, because of the massive amounts of information bombarding us regularly, the unthinking Christian longs to run in retreat, leaving heavy thinking up to a few elite Christian leaders or theologians…”

Gordon MacDonald ‘Ordering your private world’ Chapter 8

It is too easy, on social media, to share links as if to say, ‘yeah, what s/he thinks.’  Are we owning our own opinions?  Doing our own thinking?  Or just falling into a lazy world of ‘like’ and ‘unlike’, a mere spectator sport rather than playing the tough game on the digital field, sweating, wrestling deeply with our beliefs and convictions, standing up to real opposition, and taking some knocks?  We need to be trained, thinking, ‘fit’ for such a world.

We need to know whose side we are playing on, in this world of digital entertainment.  God doesn’t actually have an online profile, so won’t give you a ‘like’ in approval for what you’ve just posted… And besides, he’s not on your team (as Joshua found out here).  The real question is, are you on his?



Read the whole series: 31 days of digital REAL
< (previous) Digital disclaimer
> (next) Waking up to REAL

#write31days (What is Write 31 Days?)



5 thoughts on “31 days: Thinking requires effort

  1. Pingback: 31 days of digital REAL | Ruth Marriott

  2. Pingback: 31 days: digital disclaimer | Ruth Marriott

  3. Pingback: 31 days: Waking up to Real | Ruth Marriott

  4. I’ll be adding that book to my reading list!
    It’s comforting to remember that before social media was even a thing, many of the cultural problems that we have today were already in existence. I read a great post that showed how even before electronics of any kind were in existence people would still block out the real world by reading a newspaper or a book. We get to choose whether to be present in the moment. There are always distractions to pull us away, no matter how advanced we are or are not.

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