What the Brain Teaches About Faith
The brain is one of the most complex objects in the known universe. It’s a reflection of it’s maker. We are made in God’s image, therefore, He created our brains to embrace our identity. Here are eight concepts about how our brains were made that can help us understand our faith.
We have a purpose
Although the brain is super complex, it has a simple purpose. It’s purpose is to sense the world around us. It’s job is to be aware of our environment and orient us within our surroundings.
Although faith is incredibly complex, there is a simple purpose to it as well. The purpose of faith is to orient ourselves around God. To sense Him, His character and His plans for our lives.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We have needs
The brain must understand the needs of the body and recognize when the world offers opportunities to meet those needs. It exists to optimize behavior. This means the brain operates according to the threats and possibilities in that moment, then it adapts accordingly.
Faith sees the opportunities of Christ and the threats of the devil surrounding us and adapts or grows accordingly. Our faith does not remain stagnant. It becomes a reflection of our relationship with our creator.
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12
We are connected
The brain is connected to everything within your body. There is nothing within the body that is beyond its reach. It controls everything.
The Lord is never out of our reach. He is always with us, guiding us and lavishing His love on us. And, no matter what we do, we are never beyond the reach of the Lord.
“And I pray that you… grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
More is better than one
The brain is a network of nerves all talking to each other. The brain is constantly processing information and it’s better to have multiple nerves talking to each other about how to react than a single nerve. A network of nerves can understand complex realizations and behaviors better than one on it’s own.
Our faith is strengthened in community. When we come together as a group of people all striving to understand God more fully, we will work better, and be able to grasp more of the complexities of faith in Christ.
“Whenever two or more of you are gathered, there am I in your midst.”
We are a new creation
The brain of a baby has very little connections established when it is born. As the baby learns and develops, the connections are made at random. But, these connections often need to be re-established as they grow, experience life and become more “tuned into” their environment.
Faith is all about learning and relearning. We learn and grow from our sins, our failures, our falls and even our victories. Everyday is a new opportunity to throw away the old way of thinking and place before us a deeper, stronger reliance on God and His intentions for our lives.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
We become stronger
We need to be educated in what surrounds us. As we experience more in life, we become more familiar with our world. For example, a cat and a small dog look the same to an infant. But, a grownup can distinguish between the two. Or another example, if we were to look at a field filled with sheep, we would find them indistinguishable. However, a shepherd knows the tiny differences of every sheep, all of which are obvious to him. Each established skill becomes the platform for a more complex skill.
As our faith matures, it becomes stronger. God opens our eyes more so we can see His hand at work. He opens our ears so we can hear His truth and place them deep within our hearts. Once we have a foundation established for our faith, we will continue to build on it.
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”
We need to practice faith often
Contrary to what it appears, it actually takes time for the brain to process information. However, once the brain has experienced the same situation on several occasions, it becomes wired as a habit. This means that the brain creates a “shortcut” so the action can occur faster.
We’re supposed to make a habit out of spiritual disciplines that help us grow in our faith. God created us to thrive on routine and habits, therefore going to church, reading the bible, praying, etc. should be practiced regularly so they can become habitual and help us build a stronger faith.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
We were made in God’s image
Would you ever find your dog sitting at the foot of your bed imagining a picture he’s going to create? Not only can we (as humans) imagine, we can communicate our imagination. We’re able to contemplate the fact that we are a person with a history and a future. We’re able to arouse desires and adopt responsibilities.
These aspects are a huge element of being a reflection of our creator. God, the creator of everything, created us in His likeness. We are supposed to create. We’re supposed to have longings and desires as well as embrace our responsibilities. God has called us to trust and obey, which is the reality of having a past and a future. Our faith stems from our identity in Him, as not only our creator, but also as a reflection of Him.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Our brain can teach us so much about ourselves, our creator and the world. We are made in God’s image, so our brain can also teach us about our relationship with Him. He created us to trust Him, obey His commands and love him deeply!