nov 13

Jenga and Truth: Why Ideas Have Consequences


My eyes are examining the leaning unstable tower with a calculated analysis of cause and effect. A gentle tug reveals the block is bearing full weight…a quick change of strategy. I now zoom in on a partly dislodged block on the other side of the tower. Carefully, slowly…my fingertips clench the block and ever so slightly tug the edge of the shape. The tower begins to sway and I quickly stop…waiting a few moments, trying to will the tower to find stability and re-gather its equilibrium. After a deep breath, my steady hand again attempts to dislodge the block with slow steady pressure…slowly…sloooowly…CRASH!!! The tower crumbles to the ground with a thunder of sound and a squeal of surprise. JENGA!!! The game is over and my daughter has won. Anyone else like the game Jenga??

Sometimes I feel like I live in a society of Jenga towers readying themselves to crash. With all the self-indulgence, promiscuity and violence it seems brick by brick the morality in our culture is being dismantled. God’s word is quickly being replaced with tolerance, pleasure and fabrications of truth.

Late evangelist and apologist Francis Schaeffer said: “I believe people are as they think. The choices we make…will mold irrevocably the direction of our culture… and the lives of our children.” [1]

The Building Blocks of Truth

If we continue to remove the foundational blocks of truth in our lives and world we will continue to see negative consequences manifested around us.

Let me explain it this way:

With each decision comes consequences; sometimes good, sometimes bad. If you choose to live on fast food while avoiding exercise and calorie intake it’s inevitable you will see deteriorating conditions in your health; obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. These are consequences that can be traced directly to poor eating habits. [2] On the contrary healthy eating habits can lead to controlled weight, boasts in energy, improved mood and life longevity. [3]

In other words, the consequences are directly related to the decisions one makes.

Taking the analogy a bit deeper we also understand that these decisions are part of a deeper value system that exists within us. If you value life and see your body as important and sacred before God then eating right and controlling your gluttony is a logical result. It’s complex but the thread we can recognize here is that values produce corresponding decisions, which produce corresponding consequences. It may not always be one single identifiable value but a complex host of emotions, beliefs, and experiences. Together they drive our decisions.

And finally, what are the roots of these values??

Truth or Lies. A life aligned with God’s Truth will find itself structured around life-producing values. These values will lead to good decisions, which inevitably yield positive outcomes or consequences.

My friend and theologian Darrow Miller simply puts it this way:

BELIEFS →VALUES → BEHAVIOR → CONSEQUENCES

In conclusion: Ideas (beliefs) ultimately produce consequences.

It’s not too difficult to see this train of thought with something like gluttony, but what about other issues? Can the same be said for violence? Racism? Physical poverty? Neglect? Abuse? Are there direct correlations between these consequences and the beliefs of man?

Proverbs 23:7 says: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Human Brokenness

The human brain is very powerful. If your brain is twisted into believing lies your body and actions will follow. Thus, how we think about life, God and humanity dictates the type of person we will be.

A human or culture built upon lies will produce various forms of poverty (social, physical, spiritual and mental). It’s inevitable.

Lies about God and humanity can produce values of pleasure and self-centeredness over loving others and the sacredness of life. → Which in turn can lead to egocentric decisions in place of right and just decisions. → Which can lead to consumption over generosity; violence over forgiveness; rage over patience.

Ideas produce consequences…every time.

Each time you remove a brick from the Jenga tower a void is left. Emptiness fills the space. The same I believe is true in our lives. The more we remove God from our lives the more we open ourselves up to the empty feelings of our world. Our personal needs become what’s most important. We become self sufficient, self-indulgent and self-reliant, and those are NOT qualities that align us with God.

However, understanding this process is never quite as simple as A leads to B, which leads to C. Humans are complex people, thus our poverty and brokenness will be as well. But pause for a moment and consider some of the negative consequences in our world. Contemplate the roots. What beliefs may be leading to these consequences?

Could the lies of gender inferiority be leading to sexism, abuse and forms of prostitution?

Could beliefs of human flourishing apart from God be leading to greed, manipulation and oppression?

Could the belief in eternal futility be leading to physician-assisted suicide, addiction and unhealthy compulsions?

What about abuse and racism and promiscuous sexual behavior and violence? Are there lies that might be fueling those behaviors?

I believe as the foundation of truth crumbles so too does our morality. If we continue to remove God’s truth brick by brick from our lives, then we have no right to stand there blaming God for the evil that exists as our tower sways with instability back and forth.

Our hope is found in God’s Truth and nothing less. His word is a lamp unto our feet (Ps 119:105), His name is a strong tower (Prov 18:10) and His truth will set us free from the bondage of sin and brokenness (Jn 8:32)

Individuals and cultures shaped by Truth will produce positive consequences in this world. As Christians may we embrace the truth of God and seek to share it with the broken and unstable culture around us.

This Series:

As Reconciled World our work is aimed at nurturing truth in each culture, restoring dignity to people, and sharing the eternal hope that comes through life aligned with Jesus Christ.

This post starts a two-week study of Reconciled World’s Core Principle: Nurturing Truth. Through this time we hope to present why we have identified this as a core value for our organization and track how this idea shapes our work around the world. We hope you will join us in this discussion and share your thoughts as we journey together in this study!

[1] “Forest and The Seed”, Scott Allen, Darrow Miller: Disciple Nations Alliance 2006
[2]http://www.livestrong.com/article/273862-the-effect-of-eating-fast-foods-everyday/
[3]http://www.healthline.com/health/5-benefits-healthy-habits – 2
Image courtesy of Jose Hernandez / Flickr.com

About John

John Warden, our Director of Mission Initiatives, provides oversight and training for the TCT - Local program. John has had the opportunity to work with Christians around the world in elements of worldview, poverty, outreach and wholistic ministry. Join us in this initiative to reach and love the world around us for God’s glory.

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