Two young fish are swimming down a stream. An older fish, heading the other direction, passes by and says "Good morning boys,how's the water?". As he swims away, the two young fish look at each other and say "what the heck is water?" David Foster Wallace said this in a commencement speech to a graduating class. He was speaking about the way that society tends to ignore the obvious truth that's right in front of them due to our enormous self-centeredness; How we think everything is about us, and only think through the lens of "how does this affect me". He also speaks about us all worshipping something. He, being a non-believer, had come to the conclusion that there was no such thing as an atheist- We all serve something. Now, he goes further on to state how, if the things you serve are not a god or some religious higher power or state of being, then you'll end up worshipping the material things around you- which is worse, and in the end will consume and destroy you.
His solution is to constantly remind yourself to choose what to think. To be mindful of others, their thoughts, their perceptions, to fight off the dull lapses in thinking and the default setting to believe that the universe revolves around you.
Sadly, he has come so incredibly close to the Christian perspective of what's wrong with the world, and even the solution, without actually understanding how faith in Jesus Christ is our only hope out of this "default state" of self-absorption. Jesus Christ came to save us from the grips of sin, satan, and our own broken nature. Outside of Christ's redemptive work on the cross, The Holy spirit's work in our hearts, an God's sovereign plan for our lives- there is no hope of ever escaping the endless maze of self-worship. We are born blind, and arrogantly confident that we can see all of reality, interpret it, and give it meaning. Christ opens our eyes to the truth of the darkness we were once in, the purpose and meaning behind his creation (including us), and our dependency on Him for physical and spiritual sustenance.
Our default settings can only be changed by the Head Programmer who wrote the code. It is then that we begin to function as we were originally intended to. Other wise, we are like damaged sailboats posing as luxury cars- broken and completely ignorant of our design and our function.
As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Rome:
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. "(Romans 12:1, 2)
It is not until we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, that we can even begin to speak about the transforming of our minds. When we recognize our dire state, then God opens our ears so that we may hear, our eyes that we may see, and our hearts so that we may receive the message of His Gospel of grace. And, as we continue to live out this good news of our reconciliation to God, the Holy Spirit is rewiring the desires and the perspective of our thoughts and perceptions. God renews our mind from the default setting of "me-centeredness", to the perfect setting of "Christ centeredness".
Does this renewing of our core happen immediately? No. It takes a believer's whole life, constantly purging the sinful thought patterns we are so used to, going through trials that test our faith in God. We won't be completely free from our old habits till we are given glorified bodies in heaven, but the fruits of the spirit will bear witness to the transforming of our minds. Until then, believers are to live with two settings; killing off the old way of selfishness through the worshipping of God, trusting in Jesus' work on the cross, and seeking comfort and help from the Holy Spirit. But how does Christ centeredness relate to Wallaces' proposition?
Being Christ centered is the only setting that allows us to see "the water"- the obvious need for a savior in this broken world. It saves us from this world's default sinful setting, all the while reminding us that we are not responsible for this change in our internal workings, but that it was a gracious act of God- so that we may not boast, judge others, and fall back into the sinful setting. It opens our hearts to be compassionate for our fellow man, whom was creates in the image of God as well, and needs the same redemptive love of Christ we were gifted.