Independent Thinkers

“There is no new thing under the sun.” -Eccl. 1:9

Independent Thinkers. I love them! I am one of them. I encourage them.

But I also want to speak a word of warning: Embrace the journey of an independent thinker with grace and humility.

“There is no new thing under the sun.” -Eccl. 1:9

What is my concern is for so many of us independent thinkers? It’s that we avoid arrogance! A sacred desire to be different for righteousness sake can sometimes be a disguise for being different for difference sake. The latter can lead to an isolationists mentality robbing an individual of one of their greatest needs, relationships.

To the high school seniors about to enter college: Be an independent thinker. That state university philosophy professor is going to throw a lot at you. As will the science and English departments. And let’s not forget the students and peers who will want you to scrap your moral convictions. You might be tempted to say, “Wow my parents and that country preacher never thought of these enlightened challenges to the faith.”

Truth is our minds have traveled those roads: The generation before you were the first to question everything. Some rationalized away their faith. Others kept digging until they found answers. Just know that there are folks with more education, secular and religious, than that professor you have who do find solid footing in the faith once for all delivered to the saints. And, by the way, you might be shocked to know how many philosophies of this world that country preacher had to grapple with along the way.

Think with grace and humility.

To the young adult millennial who has seen the hypocrisy in the church or assumed a blind and shallow allegiance by the faithful. You might be tempted to think that you’ve discovered a new way of looking at things in order to reject everything about the current structures of our worship, faith and practice.

Truth is our minds have traveled those roads. There is now a generation of midlife believers who didn’t settle for a “well that’s just the way things are supposed to be” answer. We grappled with sources of truth. We explored the various components of religious structures, biblical interpretations, denominations, and various factions of Christianity, and we listened to those who would deconstruct every aspect of our way of thinking. Some slipped into isolationism, others dug deeper until they found answers as to why we still hold fast to the core elements of a biblical corporate faith experience.

Think with grace and humility.

To the midlifer who DID NOT actually grapple with all these challenges: You woke up one morning not knowing why you’ve lived a certain way. Your kids are grown now, and you were “doing church” and holding the marriage together for them. And now your mind is wondering what you’ve missed out on. Do you really assume the godly Christian scholars, pastors, and revivalists of the revolutions, reformations, and awakenings didn’t mentally attack these challenges?

Truth is our minds have traveled these roads. Some, even vocational ministers, walked away from the church (and at times their families) while spiritualizing a midlife crisis. Others dug deeper, and their roots have tapped into the True Vine in ways they never imagined. They have become leaders in the Body, not for political clout but motivated by genuine John 15 love.

May we think with grace and humility.

Finally, to the senior adult who has found more time to think in the fourth quarter of life: You feel that you have served your time, that the church is not so much for you anymore, or that your maturity and experience has brought you to a place of spiritual retirement and permanent retreat. You aren’t even so sure you were right all of those years.

Truth is the Bible is full of examples of those whose best works for God took place in their old age. Their minds had traveled these roads. A few did not finish well. But Moses, Abraham, Sarah, Simeon, and many more saw God’s glory in the most magnificent ways in their latter days. Stay in the fight.

Think with grace and humility.

The good thing about independent thinkers is that we are not satisfied with the status quo, nor are we comfortable just going along for the ride. But if we aren’t careful, we will arrogantly assume that we must be pretty smart since we are thinking of things that no one else (at least no one around us) has ever thought of.

Humility says, “Check your motives.” Perhaps God is illuminating His Word to help us grasp something many have overlooked; in which case it will take grace and humility to engage others that need to be awakened to this truth. But, perhaps our flesh has desires for which our faith has not previously made allowances. In this case, we could be subconsciously using our abilities as an independent thinker to reconstruct (or deconstruct) our faith. All the while we are thinking of ourselves as spiritual revolutionaries going where others have been hesitant to go, we could actually be guilty of a blind iconoclasm making an excuse to neglect what our flesh rejects and embrace what our flesh desires.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Think! But think with grace and humility.