Our brain is a unique and wonderful creation. When high-stress events take place the region of the brain called the amygdala takes over. This is part of our thinking process where the fight or flight response is issued. The amygdala is the emotional center of our brain. In times of perceived danger, the amygdala disables and overrides our frontal lobe where rational thoughts are processed. This overriding event has a name. It is called an Amygdala Hijack. The amygdala function of the brain hijacks our thought process, disabling the frontal lobe and has us respond to negative events emotionally, not rationally.
The events of the last 18 months have created a great deal of relational havoc in the Church because many did not have their thought process living in submission to the Spirit. In essence, we lived in submission to natural brain functions instead of a renewed mind. This sad realization can become something positive if we are willing to engage in the mental process of renewing our minds.
Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The Greek word Paul used to describe the “renewing” of our minds is translated as “a renewal, renovation – a complete change for the better.”
One challenge we have as believers is gaining the mind of Christ, not a religious or cultural mind. In order to gain and exhibit His mind, we must be able to discern the difference between the world’s mindset that demands conformity to its agenda and the transforming power of the Spirit that sets us free to think like Jesus. This lack of discernment is where our conflicts emerge.
Only by the Spirit, working together with God’s Word are we able to override the powerful influence of the brain’s amygdala response. After this override takes place, according to Paul, is where true discernment is possible – a discernment that can see and understand the will of the Father in the midst of a sea of undisciplined emotional responses.
When both sides of a hotly contested opinion are engaged in a full-on amygdala response, and a hijacking is taking place, no way forward is ever discovered. To stand in this chaos and speak in the measured voice of a renewed mind requires courage. The sound of that voice will have the same tone and content used by the Lord and His disciples when they would stand up in the middle of a contentious debate and share the reasoning and wisdom of the Spirit. As Scripture tells us these moments of overriding revelation were not always well-received, but they faithfully spoke a message of God’s heart and His mind on the contested issues of the day no matter what level of push back they encountered. Until we move away from natural wisdom and its associated emotional responses and allow our minds to be renewed, we will continue to think our only option to discord is to fight or flight.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins