The Galilean fisherman would have been surprised to learn that at one point he was encouraging the positive benefits of neuroplasticity. In chapter 3, verse 1, he tells his readers that in both of his letters his goal was “to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” He knew nothing about how our thought life can change the structure of the brain and how it functions. But he did know that thinking about that which is pure had a way of leading to a more positive thought life. We now know through the contributions of neuroplasticity that intentional thinking can change the actual structure of the brain. In his letters Peter wanted to encourage his readers to let that which was wholesome and good fill their minds. He knew from experience that it changed the way people thought about life.
Paul would agree wholeheartedly with his fellow apostle. In a letter to the believers in Philippi he wrote, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” What he didn’t know was that what he was recommending would create new neural connections and change how we think. We all know that there is a power in positive thinking. No doubt about it. A former pro football player told me that at one point in his career he tried it out and for several years running he was All-Pro in the NFL. Could we not say that there is a power in wholesome thinking that can establish us in All-Pro Christian living? The British philosopher and writer, James Allen, said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you.” Christians whose thought life centers on that which is uplifting and vituous are the models for how to live as followers of Christ.
Isn’t it interesting that intellectual progress is not so much in new fields as it is in understanding more perfectly what we already know? Peter wanted to stimulate his reader to fix their thoughts on that which was positive and wholesome. He knew that that mindset had a positive effect on life. We now know more about what is going on inside the brain but that is less new knowledge than it is expansion of what we already know. So, thanks, Peter, for stimulating us to do a bit of thinking about thinking.