Prepared Minds

Prepared Minds   

by Dr. Curt Brannan

Impression vs. Being

 Ours is a culture concerned more about appearance than substance.  For many people, if not most, image is everything. During the 2004 presidential election I was listening as a media panel critiqued a televised debate between the candidates.  The moderator of the panel began his discussion by asking, not what the candidate in question said about the issues (substance), but how they thought he came across or appeared (image) to the TV audience.  Later, to their credit, some issues were discussed.

Observers have been critical of these televised debates and the candidate’s failure to talk about issues.  However, the manner in which the media structures political debate seems geared, not to draw out a substantial declaration of a candidate’s commitments or views, but to ensure a fast moving media event.  It is unlikely that anything of real depth can be crammed into two minutes of presentation followed by one minute of rebuttal.  I understand the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates began with Douglas speaking for three hours, a break for dinner, then Lincoln speaking for four hours, followed by a one hour rebuttal.  Very different from what we see today!  As one critic observes, “How they come across – not what they say – is what matters to the American public.  To score points they must avoid gaffes, score zingers and above all seem presidential.” And, the problem is deeper than politics; it’s pervasive in every area of life.

Are We Ready?

 On the other hand, the hollow emptiness of this inane sound-bite approach to presenting truth is at least sensed, if not fully understood, even by many who have rejected authoritative truth. And, it is into this vacuum that we, as Christians, are called to speak a clear challenge to our culture.  In a world focused on the external we are called to offer substance and truth based in God’s reality, demonstrating that it is a viable, reasonable alternative to the vacuous superficiality upon which lives are being built in our time.  However, the great question is, are Christians prepared for this challenge?  Are we prepared to speak clearly and forcefully to this world where God has called us to “stand in the gap”?

The apostle Peter understood something that American Christianity is in danger of forgetting – that to fulfill the purposes of God takes more than feel-good faith. To first century believers Peter says, gird (prepare) your minds.  He uses the analogy of the loose fitting garments commonly worn in that day.  At times these got in the way, especially when one was engaged in some demanding work.  To gird them was to catch up all the loose ends and get everything in place so the person was ready for the task at hand. As Peter looked at the challenge he understood that sloppy, undisciplined minds are not prepared to do the job.  “Therefore, gird your minds for action . . .” The only way we can fulfill our ministry is to be a people fully prepared to confront our culture with truth – and that demands preparation – pulling the loose ends together.

Fervor Isn’t Enough

 Declaring allegiance to Christ with emotional fervor while being unable or unprepared to affirm clearly the viability and significance of our faith will never make an appreciable impact on today’s world. Ours is a time of moral ambiguity and spiritual blindness.  Many, not understanding the presuppositions that guide their view of life, dismiss Christianity as an archaic vestige of the past.  But, this is the world we are called to speak in and to.  And, not just with sound-bites about Jesus or zingers that point to other people’s failures.  As in the first century, the need today is for Christians who stand ready to give compelling reasons for the hope they declare as eternal truth.

I rejoice that Grace Classical Academy is about nourishing and encouraging prepared minds that are ready to speak truth into this moment of history. This is not only the greatest safeguard we can give our children as they encounter their world, it is also the only base for living purposeful lives and glorifying God in the 21st Century. May we never fall into the trap of making our faith only a matter of the mind, but let us never settle for less than minds that grasp and are fully prepared to defend that truth.