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Rubbish In, Rubbish Out

I’m not much good on computers but the line “rubbish in rubbish out” is one that makes sense to me. Sometimes the rubbish in is intentional and other times unintentional and it is only shown up by the results.

Thankfully as human beings we are much more than sophisticated computers but the “rubbish in rubbish out” principle applies. There are many aspects of humanity being made in God’s image that are very enabling and life giving. One of these is that we have been given minds by which to think. This is why Jesus in summarizing the commandments concerning God tells us to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength. Christian commitment is never a mindless, thoughtless matter, on the contrary it is a life given over to a thorough ongoing obedience. This requires a full and complete renovation of our minds. (Rom 12:1-2) A new way of thinking about God, our fellow human beings, the world and ourselves must be embraced. And what a joyful yet challenging journey this proves to be. Whilst our hearts and emotions are captive to God’s will it all starts with how we think.

It is for this reason that God has spoken and given us His thoughts and Words in the Bible. It is why Christians have always been at the pioneering cutting edge of literacy, language and education.

Unlike robotic computers or animals that operate by instinct we are to function by intention and obedience. Like a computer we are to take our cue from our gracious Creator. We are able to filter out “rubbish thinking” as we assess its value and truthfulness by God’s Word.

G.K. Chesterton, in characteristic style commented on this process “an open mind is for the same purpose as an open mouth: to clamp down on something nourishing. Otherwise it might become like a sewer, accepting everything and rejecting nothing.”

Communities that endorse rubbish on public (or even private) media display a terrible mindlessness borne out of either naivety or worse, pride in our ability to absorb rubbish yet being expected to act in healthy ways. Imagine if a bottled water company adopted the same approach by selling bottled sewer water!

At the end of the day we as individuals have the responsibility to monitor our input. Dallas Willard comments that “the ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will let our minds dwell on.” It’s a good and true comment.

How much “rubbish in” we have been subject to can be easily assessed by a growing knowledge of the Bible and how much “rubbish out” we give can be easily be curtailed by avoiding those ideas, behaviours and thinking that are clearly out of kilter with our Creator’s mind. Ignoring God is like spitting into the wind but our obedience is always for our good.