Our behavior is heavily influenced by our belief. A visit to two university campuses last week revealed the precarious position in which we find our society today. It is one in which the belief that is influences behavior is one that is generated not from rational truth but from irrational trends. At those two campuses, students espoused deep theological convictions through the propagation of social issues. While examining the contrasts between the two universities, one secular and the other Christian, one can observe that the current generation is one that thinks of them as being influential while being heavily influenced themselves. The result is a generation that conforms to one another with little consideration for the display of truth that is manifested through creation around them (I previously wrote about that and you can read that article by clicking here).
As Christians, this trend should disturbing, but not without hope. The trend is disturbing because it means that we live in a culture on the verge of abandoning logic and rationality that should direct the most basic and most complex of circumstances and decisions. Being lead by emotionalism instead, they will turn their back upon God and eventually one another. However, we live with hope because there exists an ability to perhaps not reverse this trend, but impact individuals.
Art Azurdia asserts that when sanctification is mentioned within the Gospel of John it is done so with the expectation of mission, meaning that those being sanctified are being done so for the purposes of the mission in which God has called them. As Christians, that truth has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ and made clear and so having been sent upon a mission from the Lord, we utilize that truth to influence others and call them out of darkness but into the light. Therefore there are two aspects that we must actively engage in to influence others so that they will not be so easily influenced:
Cultivate Intellectual Capacity: It was not until someone taught me to study the Bible that I learned to study critically. I was taught to take in, commit it to memory, and regurgitate it on the test. Only later did I learned how to think deeply, intimately, and intensely about that which I was being taught. This does not mean I was taught to disagree with everything, only that I evaluated it against rules of logic. We must do the same. To do this we simply utilize the logic of Scripture because it is a truth that produces a reasonable and rational worldview by which one can deconstruct cultural conformity.
Cultivate Emotional Capacity: Additionally, not only should intellectual capacity be cultivated but also emotional capacity. Emotions have the tendency to dictate both action and reaction. However, unrestrained by sensibility emotionalism misdirects away from the heart of an issue and thus accomplishes nothing more than destruction.
The two are not independent of one another. Emotions need to be controlled by intellectual content while our intellectual content must be accompanied by an emotional response. Our only response to a culture that is unquestionably influenced is to cultivate both intellectual and emotional capacity.
I am convinced that rationality and logic will lead to Christ. In fact, I would say that neither can exist apart from Christ. Christ is the embodiment of truth and wisdom and because of this aspect of his nature, we cannot cultivate intellectual or emotional capacity apart from cultivating a love and desire for Christ. To some degree, we are unable to incline a person’s heart towards Christ. Yet, there is the ability to teach about Him, model a relationship with Him, and share our love for Him.
It is true that we live in a culture in which our youth are easily and readily influenced. That should concern us, and yet I suspect that every generation had anxiety and preoccupation with the state of the generation that would follow. Our focus though is for those following us and ensuring that they are well-prepared for the confrontation of secularist ideology. To do so we cultivate emotional and intellectual capability that comes through a love for Christ. Christ should be the belief that initiates behavior because Christ is more than a belief, but a catalyst for renewing a relationship with the one, true God.
Photo “UCLA” courtesy of user Ignacio Andrade and Flickr.