Thursday, October 27, 2011

On Loving God with Your Mind

Perhaps some of you have wondered why the tagline of this blog is “loving God with your mind.” Well, here’s why. 1

In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)

Part of the greatest commandment, then, is to love God with “all our mind.” But what does this mean? To love is to sacrifice and to serve. It is to make a commitment to the beloved that is covenantal, not contractual (i.e. not circumstantial). It involves honesty and transparency. And it always leads to action on behalf of the beloved. Therefore, we should expect that loving God with our minds, whatever else it might be, will be an act of service and sacrifice, that it will be honest and transparent, and that it will lead to action of some kind. This means that we should expect it to be difficult. But like most difficult things, also meaningful.

When Jesus elucidated this command, it would have hit very close to home with His Jewish audience. This aspect of loving God was central to their cultural and national identity. A few posts ago, I pointed out that the word “Israel” means literally “to wrestle with God.” I even went so far as to suggest that it was this about the Jewish people that God so valued. I now suggest that, as He has not changed, He values it just as highly in us.

The writer of Hebrews says, “...though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 2

Loving God with our minds, then, will include seeking “solid food.” It will mean moving beyond the basics of salvation and repentance to a deeper understanding of our faith and an ability to discern good from evil in all contexts, “by constant use” of the resources God has provided for us to learn. The writer was here appealing not to the hearts or souls of his readers, but to their thoroughly Jewish minds.

Similarly, in 1 Cor. 14:20, Paul says, “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (ESV) The context of this verse is the necessity of letting even the gifts of the Holy Spirit be guided by mature thinking.

What, then, are the actions (mentioned above) that this sort of love leads to? Presumably, they would be methods of training the mind to perform the functions for which God designed it, as well as it possibly can. And since the principle function of that part of our being is to think, the action to which we ought to be motivated (if we really love God) is nothing more exalted than study.

I know it doesn’t sound very "spiritual," but alas, we are more than just spiritual beings, and God wants all of us.

For more on this, see my post on childlike faith.
2 Hebrews 5:12-14 (NIV)


  1. great blog and a needed reminder. =)

  2. Christians are generally much better at the other things [heart and soul] but the mind is the one that usually gets forgotten about. Great post!