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FAITH GROWTH AND MEMORY

Ev. Kalvin Budiman

When one day a friend asked for my wife’s phone number, I was quite surprised to learn that I didn’t remember it. I always had her phone number in my cell phone and saved it under my wife’s name, but I wasn’t able to just recite it from memory when I needed it. I had to pause, press the contact list button on my phone, search for her name, and only then I was able to tell my friend the number. I came to a sudden realization that I had ignored my memory. I thought to myself, I used to be able to remember easily not only my wife’s phone number, but also 15-20 phone numbers of my friends. What happened to me now?!

Modern technology, like smartphone, is a tremendous help for many people. No one will deny that fact. But it has also caused a lot of people to set aside one important aspects of God-given capacity in human brain, i.e. memory. We are, in what is now common term in business, outsourcing our skill to memorize to our modern devices. We let modern devices take over our human capacities to retain information and let them produce the information for us as we need it. We depend on them so much to the degree that we have very little desire to train one of these most fundamental human capacities.

Our capacity to memorize is definitely important for our spiritual life. The art of memorization was very important in the ancient time not simply because in the past people did not have modern technology like we do today, but because people in the past believed that the art of memorization was one of the most basic mental exercises that helped them grow spiritually in faith. In Deuteronomy 6:4-8, God introduced in quite detail to the Israelites an ancient strategy of how not to forget God and His word, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. As if God is saying that growing in faith takes time; and something that takes time needs memory.

Nowadays, anybody can find Bible verses easily through Google search engine or with any Bible apps. But true spiritual growth can only be achieved through reading and meditating the Word of God day and night (Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2). Today people can also get a lot of information through the Internet on who Jesus is. But our true knowledge of Jesus can only be obtained through cherishing

Him daily and all the time in our hearts. Our spiritual growth has no correlation whatsoever with how much biblical information and data available on the Internet, on our computer or on our other electronic devices. But our spiritual growth has everything to do with our memory.

It is interesting to note that before Jesus returned to heaven, He promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit. And one of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to remind us of everything Jesus has said to us (John 14:26). I don’t think this promise means that the Holy Spirit will take over our responsibility to memorize Jesus words. I think this promise means that the Holy Spirit will use and work through our memory of Jesus teachings
that we learn from the Bible on daily basis. The word to remind [someone] that is used in John 14:26 in its original language is hypomnesei, which literally means to bring to someone’s remembrance.In other words, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will conjure up or call up the word of God that we store as memories in our brain. Therefore, if we want to grow in faith, it’s true that we need help from the Holy Spirit, but we must also want to train and fill our brain memory bank with the word of God.

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