Lift Him Up
The theme for this year’s ASI Convention is “Lift Him Up.” Think on those three words for a moment. If we really appreciated Jesus; if our lives reflected His exalted character; if we “Lifted Him Up” in thought, word, and deed, what would onlookers think? Seriously!
Jesus promised, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). His disciples, anticipating the fulfillment of this promise, stretched every nerve and fiber to meet that condition before a mostly pagan world, and within one short generation they turned their world upside down.
The disciples knew Jesus was God, and they boldly presented Him as such. How unfathomable that idea must have seemed in those days. Indeed, it still does. An infinite, eternal, incarnate God is mind-boggling. Can your mind encompass that thought?
Mark Robert Waldman, an Associate Fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, is tasked with researching the brain to learn the effects of meditation on positive or negative big ideas. Among other things, his work resulted in his co-authoring the book How God Changes the Brain. Now, why would an atheist want to write about a God in whom he does not believe? First of all, Waldman isn’t interested in God as Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos; he is interested in God only as a “big idea.” He couldn’t hit on a bigger idea than that.
Waldman begins by saying, “I think this is a perfect day to change the world, and I’m going to begin with God. Yes, God. God? Oh, God. No matter how you think about it, God is going to change your brain. . . . Why? Because God is a big idea. . . . And any big idea, any really big idea, is going to grow dendrites in some of the most important parts of your brain.”
Here is his point: “By meditating on your big [positive] idea, you begin to align yourself with your dream, your goal, and your vision.” This, submits Waldman, stimulates the brain, which promotes health, which in turn extends life.
On the other hand, he says, “If you ruminate on a negative thought for more than twenty seconds, you’re actually going to do damage to your brain. . . . In fact, if I put you in an MRI machine and show you this [negative] word for less than one second, it will release more stress neurochemicals than can possibly be good for your body or your brain.”
His conclusion: “If you meditate on your big [positive] idea for forty-five or fifty minutes [essentially one hour], a most unusual thing begins to happen. Your parietal lobe activity goes down. You actually disappear. You’re losing your ego, and all that remains is your big idea.” In other words, your big idea becomes your inner and outer reality.
Here we have a basic scientific discovery that explains what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). He disappeared; he lost his ego every day. What was it that happened to Paul? The answer is, “God.” To Paul, God was everything— God, as Paul’s constant focus, became his inner and outer reality.
I don’t know about you, but that’s what I want. I long to be eclipsed, to see myself insignificant in the light of the glory that is God, don’t you?
In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul wrote, “If a man thinks himself something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). When God becomes our inner and outer reality, our dreams and goals and visions, our very lives begin to align themselves with who He is. That is a demonstrable, scientific fact.
Unfortunately, God is not the only big idea out there. Satan has flooded the world with ideas big and small, seemingly good and bad. He would have us align our lives with anything but God. It is clear to him that if Jesus becomes our big idea, if He is exalted, magnified, lifted up in our minds, He will become our inner and outer reality, and all who see Jesus in us will be attracted away from sin and self and worldliness.
“Truth is so large,” wrote Ellen White, “so farreaching, so deep, so broad, that self is lost sight of.” This is how we are transformed. “Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, [by refocusing your mind away from earthly trivia to heavenly grandeur]” (Testimonies to the Church, Vol. 8, p. 322; Romans 12:3).
Jesus did that daily: “In His youth the early morning and evening twilight often found [Jesus]. .. spending a quiet hour in prayer and the study of God’s word” (Education, p. 185) Why one hour? Because it takes that long to grow “dendrites in some of the most important parts of your brain.”
BACK TO ASI
ASI members have birthed some really big ideas, ideas so far reaching that an untold number of souls have been won to God’s church. But as big and powerful and practical as these ideas are, they are not big enough to make one carnal heart holy. The only Agent with such power is God through Christ. He promised that “[a]s many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons [and daughters] of God.” (John 1:12). How is this accomplished?
“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people fully receive it, his power will be broken” (Gospel Workers, p. 161, emphasis supplied). And when exactly will Satan’s power be broken? Jesus answers: “I, [when] I be lifted up [when the world beholds God in us] will draw all men unto Me.” Now that’s a big idea!