In his Foundation series, Isaac Asimov introduces the idea of a mentalic – a person with unusual psychic abilities. In Forward the Foundation (Foundation Novels), he describes how mentalics discover their peers in society: “Stettin, I believe you said that on certain occasions you’ve ‘felt’ another mind like yours but haven’t been able to identify it.” “Yes,” answered Palver, “I’ve had flashes, but each time I was in a crowd. And, in my twenty-four years, I can remember feeling such a flash just four or five times.” “But Stettin,” said Seldon, his voice low with intensity, “each flash was, potentially, the mind of another person like you and Wanda – another mentalic…We must find other mentalics.” As mentalics studied their world, they realized they were different from most of those around them. Certain events and chance encounters triggered that awareness, and by meeting and working in concert with fellow mentalics, they had the potential to change the world.
The idea behind the concept of mentalics can shed light on our identity and role as Christians in the world. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ. He knew us before he knit our spirit with “bones and sinews.” We don’t know about our existence prior to being born in this world, of that secret place where our Father created us, but we can be sure we entered this world as God’s children. We are different from the population at large. Spiritually dead in our sins and unable to do anything about it, God made us alive through Christ.
With eyes that can now spiritually see and ears that can now spiritually hear, certain events and chance encounters trigger our awareness of being children of God. As we walk through life, we take great joy in meeting and sharing communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve had the privilege of visiting many countries around the world, and it’s always exciting to meet fellow believers. Despite the cultural differences, the various forms of worship, and language barriers, there’s an instant bond when we encounter a fellow believer for the first time. We’re God’s children, and we’ll spend time together beyond the short years allotted to us on earth.
It’s all too easy to find ourselves being conformed to the pattern of this world instead of allowing God to transform us to be more like Jesus. We become wrapped up in politics, we claim financial resources as our own instead of acting as God’s stewards, and our lives are barely distinguishable from those of the wider population. Instead, we should grasp with both hands our precious identity as children of God – bought with a price and given new life. We are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, and God’s very own possession. He called us out of darkness and into his wonderful light.
Just as the fictitious mentalics experienced momentary insights into their special role in the world, God’s people are attuned to the master’s voice. The more time passes, the more we realize that this world is temporary and that our lives are something of a test. God speaks to us through the person and words of Christ and the personal challenges we face each day. And we are not alone: We share our earthly existence with millions of other believers, whom it is exciting to know.