J.R. Spangler is editor of Ministry.

 

Recently my wife and I purchased a microwave oven. It sat for several weeks without being used, simply because neither of us had time to master the voluminous book of instructions! Could a high school dropout possibly learn to operate this sophisticated piece of kitchen machinery? The point is that knowledge is increasing at a fantastic rate. An article written by T. Harrell Allen, Ph.D., in the April, 1977, Life & Health magazine pointed out that the average person processes an astonishing 41,000 words a day through his brain.

Brain overstimulation inevitably leads to bewilderment and confusion. Al though the brain is a fabulous instrument, more marvelous than any computer, it still has its limitations. Those who fail to recognize this point, and who permit themselves to be subjected to an information overload, end up with various forms of mental illnesses, such as depression.

The only answer to this problem is to be highly selective with the information we feed our brain computers. Many a pastor is discouraged today because of the endless demands made upon him. He thinks that he is expected to know everything about everything in order to meet the needs of his people. Endless articles and numerous cartoons have appeared in religious journals portraying the pastor as an expert in finance, architecture, politics, teaching, theology, counseling, sympathizing, visiting, evangelizing, world traveling, fathering, being a husband, orating, et cetera. Regardless of what people may expect of their minister, he is responsible first of all to his Lord. I have often wondered what kind of life Jesus would lead if He were in our world today. How much would He know about automobiles? Would He try to keep up with all the world events? What would His library look like? Would He be conversant on every new religious concept? How many conventions would He attend? How many seminars would He include in His schedule? What amount of time would be spent watching television? What news journals would He take? How many book clubs would He belong to? If He had a home, how many gadgets, relics, and souvenirs would He have sitting around waiting to be dusted? Or would Jesus practice the "Seek ye first" principle? It is my belief that our Example and Guide, as the Master Minister, severely curtailed His involvement in any activity except those that helped salvage a soul from ruin and death. He refused to permit Himself to become entangled in the politics of Rome, He refused to counsel a man as to what course he should pursue in the settlement of the family estate. He certainly did not be come involved in any hairsplitting theology or innovative religious activities that were an end in themselves.

All too often the Christian ministry today is allowing elements to come into their lives that ought never to be there. Our strength, our time, our energy, is to be used first in seeking a deeper relationship with our Lord, and second, in communicating God's love to those about us. We don't need to be experts in all areas of life's activities, but we do need to be experts in the things of the Spirit. This will require blocking out much of the sensory stimuli around us. Thus we become living proof of the fact that the gospel is a great simplifier of life's problems. To exhibit this kind of life before our parishioners is of utmost necessity in a confused world, which is under continual bombardment of masses of information, which really amounts to little when we compare this with the reality of eternity that faces us all.  —J. R. S.

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J.R. Spangler is editor of Ministry.

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