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Does a 'Christian Gene' Exist Within Believers?

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  • Dan Delzell Portrait Seagreen Background
    (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
    Dan Delzell is an exclusive CP columnist.
By Dan Delzell, Special to CP
February 27, 2014|11:28 am

Scientists at Kings College in London have discovered the first gene which appears to be directly linked to intelligence. The lead author of the study stated, "It's important to point out that intelligence is influenced by many genetic and environmental factors." Makes sense I guess.

But just who is the wise man? Is it the one with the highest IQ, or maybe the person who loves others the most? Some people are genuinely kind, while others seem to be downright mean-spirited. Is that a result of DNA, or something else entirely?

Albert Einstein said, "The measure of intelligence is the ability to change." Hmm. That rings true in a number of realms, including of course spiritual considerations. There are plenty of people who have been changed by knowing Christ.

So what leads one person to readily accept the Christian message, while the person right next to him wants nothing to do with it? Is that curious phenomenon a matter of intellect perhaps? Actually, it has to do with something which goes deeper than mere intelligence. This issue goes to the heart, and the will, and man's ability to make moral evaluations and decisions.

The study at Kings College analyzed DNA samples and MRI scans from 1,583 healthy teenagers. But teenagers are obviously not all the same. What makes one teenager assist and serve those around him, while another teenager shoots those around him? One displays kindness and compassion while the other uses guns. Why the dichotomy? It certainly is a larger issue than just intelligence. It goes to the level of right and wrong. And it's not as simple as blaming it on genes.

When studying people all over the world, we find something strangely similar. There is this universal propensity to make immoral decisions, and selfish choices which take advantage of other people. Why is that? Why is man able to treat others in such a dreadful manner? If it were as simple as IQ, then I suppose the smartest people would be the most considerate of others, and vice versa. But sometimes the reality of human interactions is just the opposite.

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There are unselfish smart people, as well as selfish smart people. There are people with a lower IQ who are gracious and generous, and others who don't care about anyone but themselves. Morality is not something that seems to fit nicely into a particular "intelligence box." And for that matter, neither does the Christian faith.

You will find Christians across the entire range of IQ levels, and you will find the same thing among unbelievers. So is it in the DNA of believers to trust Jesus? Or is something deeper going on?

There is indeed a deeper reality within man, and this part of his being is known as his "spirit." This is man's "inner being," and it is deeper than his IQ. It is this spiritual aspect of man which is capable of receiving the Spirit of the Lord. When that happens through faith in Christ, man's spirit comes alive. Regardless of his IQ, his spirit is dependent upon the Holy Spirit to work the miracle of "the new birth." It actually has nothing to do with IQ, or with any sort of "Christian gene." Instead, it requires a heart of repentance and faith.

Anyone can repent and believe. That is, anyone who comes to see his own sinfulness and his need for the Savior. It doesn't require a "Christian gene," but rather, a conviction of sin which can only be worked by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. If man doesn't come under this conviction, he will not grasp His need for Jesus Christ. Those who know they are sick seek out medical assistance. The same is true when it comes to man's spiritual life.

If there was a "Christian gene," then God would be choosing to keep people from being saved by creating certain ones without that gene. Instead, man keeps himself from knowing Christ by his unbelief. Man is blinded by his sin, but certainly not by God. It is actually God's will that everyone become a Christian and be saved. (see 1 Timothy 2:4)

Jesus didn't come as a Hindu or a Muslim or Buddhist. He came as a Jew, and Christ took it up a notch by introducing "the new covenant." This is why apart from Christian faith, it is impossible for any of us to enter into God's family of believers. This is also the only door God has provided into His heavenly mansion. (see John 14:6)

Helen Keller said, "Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see." But what enables a blind person to see the Savior, while many people with 20/20 vision walk in spiritual darkness? One of the mysteries of spiritual conversion is that you never know who the next one will be to see Jesus and believe. Anyone can become a Christian, but multitudes of people have no interest in a relationship with Christ. It is that lack of interest which is so apparent and often so persistent.

Compare it for a moment to the food each of us chooses to eat. Why are some people motivated to maintain a healthy diet, while others consume only junk food and soda? Likewise, some people are motivated to feed their souls with the "bread of life," (see John 6:35) while others have no motivation to eat of this bread. I guess you are either hungry for Jesus, or not. You are either thirsty for the righteousness which Christ alone can give, or you are content seeking to establish your own righteousness based on your deeds, efforts and merits.

There isn't a "Christian gene" which has led millions of people to become believers. Rather, we all simply came to understand that our sins had separated us from God. We also came to understand the cure for man's sinful condition. There truly is medicine for the soul. Forgiveness of sins is much more than just a religious idea. It is a dynamic and living reality which operates between the Creator of the world and those of us who believe that the Father sent His Son to save us from our sin.

We didn't enter this world with any special spiritual gene. But we will leave this world in the special relationship that exists between us and our Father in heaven. This was only made possible through the death of Christ on the cross. Apart from that sacrifice which brings us to God, there is not one of us who is worthy to be forgiven. It is only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

If you are not a believer, allow me to share this simple truth with you. Christ died for you. You just don't know it yet, or you may have an inkling that it's true but you don't believe it yet for the forgiveness of your sins. Until you "apply the cross" to your own sin through faith, you will remain separated from God. That's just the way it works for everyone. By applying Christ's death to yourself, you are embracing the fact that "He died for me, and He is my Savior."

So repent and believe. Turn to Christ and receive. And then you too will join the family of God. Until then, you will remain separated from God by your sin and outside of His family.

The Son of God left a perfect place to come here so that we could one day leave an imperfect world to go there. Pretty simple, huh? But until you apply this message to your own soul and your own sin through faith, your "spiritual IQ" will remain at zero. That is right where it was when you entered this world, and that is where it will be when you leave this world. Unless of course you become "wise for salvation." (see 2 Timothy 3:15)

C.S. Lewis stated it beautifully: "I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." And his life was a poignant example of how even someone with a high IQ can humble himself and trust Christ alone for salvation. So you see, there really is no reason to ever let your smarts get in the way of coming to Christ.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Wellspring Lutheran Church in Papillion, Neb. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.
 

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