Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Loving the Lord your God with all your mind.

Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy, tells us to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Matthew 22:37).  Loving with our hearts and souls seems straightforward enough.  But what about loving him with your mind?  How is one supposed to go about that?  The mind seems like it is more for thinking than for loving.

Consider this; I love my wife, and there is a very emotional aspect to that (heart and soul).  But when I try and understand who she is, attempting to get to know her better and consider how to please her, am I not also loving her with my mind?  I believe that is the case, and loving God with my mind is similar.  Which do you suppose God is more pleased with:  blindly accepting what we are told about him; or investing time and effort in trying to discover and understand who he is and what he is doing in the world?  Which of those choices more clearly demonstrates a love for God (consider your spouses response if this was about them).

As a believer, thinking can be a dangerous thing and is not always something that is strongly encouraged.  What if you set out on a voyage of discovery and end up with some belief that are differs from that of your church?  It is much safer to simply tell people what they should believe; that way the chance of leaving the orthodox path is much reduced.  I believe though that that hinders our ability to love God with all that we are, in particular with our minds.

Dare to think about God.  Dare to try and make sense of the world around you.  Dare to be open to God's revelation, not just in the scriptures, but also in the creation.  Might you get something wrong?  For sure, and maybe more than one thing.  But, within limits, is that not better than simply being a sponge that absorbs the neatly packaged Sunday school lesson each week without ever really thinking about it?

Some caution is needing when you set out to think for yourself.  First of all realize that the primary thing God is looking for from us is faith, not complete understanding.  Because you cannot figure it out is not grounds for rejection.  Live by faith, but be willing to explore with reason.  Determine what is core to the faith and hold to that.  Don't lightly change beliefs, but be willing to if appropriate; don't just hold on to a belief because it is what your parents believed.  And, mostly, trust the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth.  If you are truly sensitive to his direction, he will not lead you astray.  We can count on going astray though without his help.

And, finally, some warning.  You will encounter people who act as though your salvation depends on your sharing the same set of beliefs they have.  Consider what they have to say, it may be valuable input, but trust God to guide you in coming to know him and what he is doing.  God knows himself better than your concerned brother does.  If you find yourself on the opposite side of some issue with a brother, I would encourage you not to get into a fight with them, or to get upset by their response to you.  Remember that you are serving the Lord and he is the one you need to be striving to please, not any of the rest of us.

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