When (Un)Common Sense Prevails
By J.R. Ensey
The inspirational poem by Rudyard Kipling, which he titled “If,” began with this line:
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you….”
Then the master wordsmith ended his poem with this verse:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Immortal words. A down-to-earth appeal to common sense, a commodity that is increasingly uncommon today. To do what the father was asking required training, but also demanded observation and planning on the part of the son. He was to learn to think first, then do. Common sense, which my dad dubbed “horse sense,” will save one a thousand heartaches in life. Partly learned from parents and tutors, and partly vacuumed from the experiences of early life, common sense is something one either has or doesn’t have. Adults rarely develop this quality.
Those who have it are thinkers. They reason. They consider. They observe. George Bernard Shaw said, “I have made an international reputation for myself because I think once or twice a week. Most people don’t think once or twice a year.” A man in our church has named his consulting business “Go Think!”
To deal with the spiritual crises that we are facing today demands that we be thinkers, employers of common sense. Thinking men pray, but they don’t stop thinking. God gives us a transformed mind, so we can think like Him, from His perspective (I Corinthians 2:16). Through the gifts of the Spirit we can see some things that ordinarily only God can see; we can act from supernatural knowledge and understanding (I Corinthians 14:20). That is not sensationalism. There is a difference in the sensational and the supernatural—the supernatural comes down from above; the sensational is conjured up down here. Hype, an appeal to the latter, is an attempt to make someone believe something whether it is true or not.
Thinkers are usually able to discern the spirit of surrender to the culture when they hear, “I am tired of fighting…It’s time to change the way we do church, to cast off the shackles of the past…Let people follow their own conscience in Christian liberty.” Non-thinkers, those more accustomed to amusing themselves with some form of entertainment (TV, movies, video games, etc.), are likely to quickly agree. In fact, the word amuse means “without thinking”—letting someone else do their thinking for them.
Some areas where we need to do our own thinking right now include the nature of the twenty-first century church. Have we removed our heads from the sand and really thought through the causes of the divisions that are fragmenting some elements of the Apostolic movement? Are we walking in spiritual wisdom, or merely caught up in political dynamics?
Regarding Christian community, can we grasp the fact that the earth has shrunk?
Where once we considered that a car trip of two or three hours outside our fellowship circle of a handful
of churches was really getting out there, we think nothing today of flying across the country for a weekend,
or even overseas to preach a couple of nights and encourage the missionaries and national leaders.
Organizational boundaries have blurred. Fellowship with another church or a group of churches in another
state is almost as easy as it once was to attend a rally in the next town. One church can do as much
financially for missions or other projects as an entire district once did. The felt need for close,
tight fellowship has dwindled. How are these dynamics affecting the movement now, and how will they
impact us in the future?
Additionally, our emphasis on doctrine and how we can maintain our biblical positions in an age of skepticism deserves the consideration of keen minds and committed hearts. The temptation to allow cultural consensus to temper our beliefs is ever present, and pastors are pressured by societal demands to displace them with shallow, humanistic “feel good” rhetoric. A grasp of history, combined with a sense of destiny and a high view of Scripture, should guide us in any deliberations on fundamental issues. When worldly philosophy flows, the clear Word of God is shrouded. When right thinking— common sense—prevails, truth is enthroned.
Clear minds must ponder other pressing questions, such as whether the authority and authenticity of the Bible is being eroded, even among Apostolics. Have the media moguls and professorial types ripped the heart of faith in the Word out of us? Have the Darwinian evolutionists and pseudo scientists convinced us that the Bible is no longer relevant, that it is full of myths, lies and hyperbole? Is holiness—separation from the world in our lifestyle—still relevant or is it outdated and in need of extensive modification? Those who let others do their thinking for them can be easily moved from their steadfastness by a few prominent individuals who cast disdain on our traditional lifestyle agreements. The lack of clear, objective thinking that incorporates spiritual wisdom could leave a generation adrift on a sea of uncertainty. “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18 NIV).
Common sense has become uncommon, but it alone will keep us together in “the common faith” (Titus 1:4). Let’s bring it back into vogue.