Pastor’s viewpoint: Feb. 24, 2018
Just today, I learned about the RAS or reticular activating system in the vertebrate brain … it’s the filter between our conscious and sub-conscious minds. Every day, thousands of stimuli flood into our brains through our five senses. And it would be impossible for us to stop and evaluate each and every one of those “messages” coming at us all day long. So, the RAS filters them out and decides which ones we should notice and all those we simply let pass through unnoticed. (sciencedirect.com)
The RAS enables us to deal with the world around us. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.” (Luk16:19-24)
The RAS enables us to comprehend the world around us without being overwhelmed by it, but there is a danger for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Sometimes we can filter out things we ought to notice … the first time the beggar sat outside the rich man’s gate, the rich man noticed him and was likely upset . But over time, his RAS kicked in and he no longer “saw” the beggar.
We can begin to imagine we Iive in a world where everyone else is like us. Or we can drive or walk past people who are lonely or struggling or sick or lost; and not see them. But Jesus sees them … and he wants us to see them!
Charles Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor.
a missionary to the Navajo Reservation.