Monday, April 17, 2006


Romans 12 speaks of "renewing the mind" as key to spiritual transformation. But what exactly does this mean? It means re-channeling and re-grooving our minds so that thoughts and feelings naturally follow the narrow path of Christ. There is a physiological reprogramming that needs to happen for people's minds, as there are ruts carved out in childhood. Consider the following....

By the time the child reaches her third birthday the number of successful connections made is colossal - up to fifteen thousand synaptic connections for each of its one hundred billion neurons.

But this is too many. She is overloaded with the volume of information whirling around inside her head. She needs to make sense of it all. Her sense. So during the next ten years or so, he brain refines and focuses its network of connections. The stronger synaptic connections become stronger still. The weaker ones wither away. Dr. Harry Chugani, professor of neurology at Wayne State University Medical School, likens this pruning process to a highway system:

"Roads with the most traffic get widened. The ones that are rarely used fall into disrepair."

Scientists are still arguing about what causes some mental highways to be used more regularly than others. Some contend that the child's genetic inheritance predisposes her toward certain mental pathways. Other claim that the way she is raised has a significant effect on which pathways will survive the Darwinian pruning and which will die.

These views are not mutually exclusive. But whatever their nature-nurture bias, few disagree on the outcome of this mental pruning. By the time the child reaches her early teens, she has half as many synaptic connections as she did when she was three. Her brain has carved out a unique network of connections. She has some beautiful, frictionless, traffic-free, four-lane highways, where the connections are smooth and strong. And she has some barren wastelands, where no signal at all makes it across.

If she ends up with a four-lane highway for empathy, she will feel every emotion for those around her as though it were her own. By contrast, if she has a wasteland for empathy, she will be emotionally blind, forever saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person – not out of malice, but simply out of an inability to pick up the frequency of the emotional signals being sent. Likewise if she has a four-lane highway for confrontation, she will be that lucky person whose brain just hands her one perfect word after another during the heat of a debate. If she has a wasteland for confrontation, she will find that her brain always shuts her mouth down at the most crucial moments. (The Decade of the Brain.)

As pastors, we are in the de-programming/re-programming business. Mental models that have been constructed, often need to be torn down. Instead there needs to be a four-lane highway developed of love, joy, peace, etc. (the fruit of the Spirit). Through your teaching, praying, exhorting, and counseling, you are getting people’s minds off “the broad road” that leads to destruction, and onto the path that leads to life.

1 comment:

Sam Middlebrook said...

That's a great quote at the opening of your post. Thanks for sharing that - it's true.