Brainwashing

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I had a conversation with a friend who isn’t a follower of Christ and not, at all, interested in “faith stuff”. He is SUPER reasonable and rational - and I love that about him. I generally think of myself as reasonable and rational, so it is natural for me to talk about my faith in those terms and from that frame of reference. You won’t hear me, generally, talk about the miraculous work of God that I see around me. It isn’t that I don’t see those things - they just aren’t the things that cause me to believe and trust in Jesus. 

During our conversation, my friend brought up the fact that most people (speaking globally) believe what their cultural context has accepted as truth for generations. There are some outliers, but if you grow up in Iran you likely put your faith in the practices of Islam and if you are born in the United States you are more bent on being a humanist or some brand of Christian faith. He isn’t wrong. This isn’t a big revelation.

My friend characterizes this as “brainwashing". He frames it in a negative sense, assuming that it is wrong for a culture to impose popular beliefs on it’s people. However, is it wrong? I absolutely brainwash my children on things, good things, that will (in my opinion) make their lives better. It isn’t done out of malice, but instead out of love.

Lets be rational for a moment, since we have already established thats how I think. I engage in car washing, deck washing, clothes washing, dish washing, body washing, hair washing… why on earth would I not engage in brain washing? The issue with brainwashing is not whether it is good to “wash” your brain of something, the issue is what you wash your brain with. 

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Last Sunday, Steve Chatman talked about the importance of the Word of God in our lives (check out that sermon here). If we believe that the Word of God is true and important information given to us by God - why wouldn’t we want to “wash” our brain with that? 

Like my friend mentioned, we will be “brainwashed” to something, for the Christ follower it only seems reasonable to let that "something" be the Word of God instead of the best this Western-American culture has to offer. I submit that the Bible contains stronger wisdom, loving counsel and the only Truth that makes an eternal difference. If I am going to be brainwashed, and I have a choice with what I use for it, I choose the Word of God. Every. Time. 

I have to ask the question though: If I am not focusing on the Word of God as the truth source that I let wash over me - what am I focusing on? Am I focused on political ideas, social norms, cultural fads, a purely human-focused rational argument, a self-focused survival instinct… are these the things I am letting wash over my brain?

You may not be with me on this, and that is fine. However, I absolutely believe that for me to follow Christ it requires I meditate on, and study, the truth that he has provided for me. Even Christian leaders have arguments on what the Bible is teaching and how it should move us to live - but if I can wash my brain with what it says, then I can always have a true reference to compare to the teachings of men.

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Luke Ramey is the Creative Director here at the River. When he isn’t networking with the creative (or playing disc golf), Luke spends all of his free time with his two amazing kids: Andrew (9) and Bristol (4).