Thin-Slicing – Trust your Gut!
Perhaps you have heard of Malcolm Gladwell. He is the author of several bestselling books – among them: Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and What the Dog Saw. Blink explores the things we see and study, many times in the blink of an eye. Mr. Gladwell’s research concludes that when we over-think things, or try to over-analyze situations, we usually end up making the wrong decisions. He calls the process “thin-slicing”. He uses many examples throughout his book, but one illustration will probably give you a good idea of how he thinks.
He suggests that if we were to watch a long video, say 20 minutes, of a couple interacting, we could make a prediction of whether or not they will stay married many years in the future. And if we watched a shorter video, say 2 minutes, we could also make a prediction about the marriage; and be right more of the time than in the first case. Moreover, if we only caught 10 seconds of the film, our predictions would have an even higher rate of success and accuracy than the other two clips. And what the research confirms is that when we just catch a glimpse of something, we have a higher chance of being correct about our impressions. Quite some research, don’t you think?
So, while most of us wait to collect more data about the things we study, those of us who trust our instincts are actually right more of the time than those of us who try to over-analyze the same things. Ever since I studied this concept, I have been thinking about how to apply this to God.
Because there are those among us who look for ways to prove the existence of God. And they spend their lives looking at research and searching the Scriptures, and other places, to absolutely confirm that God lives. This is where things break down. Because somewhere, sometime in our lives, we need to take a leap, no – a step of faith, to truly believe that God is all who He says He is. There is no definitive way to prove, in a scientific way, that God exists. It’s a heart thing. The Greeks had a word for it – “ginosko” – which means “to know” – but not in a knowledge sort of way. Rather, “ginosko” means to know in your gut – for sure – at some incredibly fundamental level in a profound, undeniable way. And that is how it should be with God.
We get the word “gnostic” from the Greek “ginosko”. This was a group of people who thought they knew more than anyone else, and usually they came from the church community in the first century. And, of course, we have “agnostics”; those people who don’t have enough knowledge to make a decision about God. But the truth is, if we go back to basics, what does your gut tell you about the existence of God? No tests, no way to prove it, just deep down, in your innermost being, take a stab at thin-slicing and what do you come up with? I hope that you come to the conclusion that God exists – because He does. I know it in my gut.
Now maybe this sounds too simple, but God wants us to have the faith of a child. And life is much easier, and better, when we can just let God wash over us without trying to over-think Him. Because, ultimately, our feeble minds are not even capable of understanding the awesome omnipotence (all powerful), omniscience (all knowing) and omnipresence (all present) of God. But I am not asking you to take the easy way out. God created us in His image, so we have the capacity to make a decision about this all-important topic. For we are told in Gen. 2:7, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” That word breath is from the Greek “pneuma”, as in our modern work pneumonia. It also has its roots in “spirit”, as in Holy Spirit. So God breathed his spirit into us, and we became living beings, in his image. How cool is that!
So, quick, what’s your thought on this? Thin-slice it! Don’t over-think it. Just let it quickly wash over you and let God speak to you in His own inimitable way. My encouragement tonight is that you can just accept the fact that God loves you, and wants to spend eternity with you. And my prayer is that you can be open to the leadings of God in your life. Because try as you might, there is no perfect, scientific way, to prove the existence of God. But He is already here, in your life, one small step away. Just believe…….