The brain is nothing short of amazing.
In a recent study, scientists showed a smiley face to a monkey and were able to photograph the morphing neurons and blood vessels forming the same smiley face pattern on the monkey’s brain.**
Although it exists as one of the final frontiers, we do know this: multitasking is bad for the brain and napping is good. Meditation helps increase our memory and relieve stress. Obesity accelerates dementia. Love lights up the brain while habitual videogaming depresses it.
Status Quo: It Isn’t Working For Us
Studies also show that the brain that remains unchallenged will slowly deteriorate over time. This becomes readily apparent when people retire. If they don’t fight the onset of terminal status quo, the brain begins to break down. While traveling is a satisfactory antidote, older people need something that will challenge their minds. Regular doses of vigorous cognitive workouts like memorization and anything requiring higher reasoning and analytical skills helps keep our brains in tip-top shape.
In the video above, the 80s rock band Yes sings the song “Changes.” As a musician, I’m a big fan of the creativity they incorporate(d) into their music (creativity works in the opposite direction of status quo). In this particular song, they sing about changes while repeatedly changing the meter in the song.
All that to say, status quo wreaks havoc on our brains. Like the battery on your computer or cell phone, the less you use it to its full capacity, the less productive it becomes. Recurring, repetitive actions literally kill us.
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Status Quo: It Isn’t Working For God Either
God isn’t a big fan of status quo either. Here’s how he challenged the status quo in Bible times. He:
- Called Abraham to leave the safe, everyday confines of his family and home for a new country—yet Abraham had no idea where he was going.
- Instructed Gideon to lead 300 men in an attack against the vastly superior Midianite army. Status quo (and conventional wisdom) says 300 men shouldn’t take on an army at least ten times bigger.
- Instructed Jonah to travel to Nineveh and preach repentance to Israel’s greatest enemy, the Assyrians. But Jonah ran from God because he knew the people might heed God’s warning and change. Jonah preferred the status quo of a godless enemy over a potentially godly ally.
- Informed a 14 year old virgin girl that she was about to give birth to the long-awaited messiah.
- Sent his only son Jesus into the world to upset the status quo of sin and death and save humanity from themselves.
I realize that status quo looks a lot like living by faith, and the two are similar. Also, status isn’t always bad. Remaining faithful to a spouse (a form of status quo) is always good. But all too often we content ourselves with the “same old, same old” when our lives would be much richer, much more God-like if we shook off our doldrums and gave up status quo for Lent.
Over the last week or so, the cancerous affects of status quo in my own life have become much more apparent to me. The Law of Status Quo (which I just made up) tells us that entities which continue operating according to the current state of affairs slowly die. Death is the logical end of status quo, but I can list a few other items which reflect this law:
- Our relationship with God
- Death-giving habits (known as addictions)
- Living safe (rather than living by faith)
- Meaningless religious rituals
If you’d like to give up status quo for life as God intended, there’s no better time to make changes than right now. I once heard Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker, say, “If you want to bring change into your life, you need to begin by changing the way you get up in the morning. If you normally get out of bed on one side–get out of bed from the other.”
Lean into your relationships that are in the doldrums. Incorporate a spiritual discipline that helps you connect with God. Just break the cancerous cycle of status quo.
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**Source: Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine, March 2011, 74.