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And with all your mind

September 25, 2012 2 Comments

by Robert Bugbee

I heard an old pastor tell a study group in which I participated, “I’m thinking about God all the time.” Maybe that sounds self-serving, but he wasn’t bragging; he was simply explaining how years of reading, praying and reflecting on Scripture had left its imprint on him.

Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). It’s not surprising to hear Him speak of loving God with heart and soul. After all, we use words like this to describe how a man loves his wife, how parents love their child, or how a professional woman loves her work. Because we love other people and pastimes “with heart and soul,” it makes sense to our ears to hear Jesus say you ought to love God that way. He didn’t stop there, however. He added, “…and with all your mind.”

What might this mean, to love God with all your mind? First, it surely means you ought to dedicate your thinking powers to the Lord’s glory. You use your mind to understand things, to figure out how they work, and to discover how you relate to them. That’s vital if you’re studying toward a university degree, or getting certified in a trade. It’s also a sign of your love for God, when you seek to learn more of Who He is, what He does in the world, what He demands of you… and, most precious of all, the love He showers on you through His Son, Jesus, Who died for you and was raised again.

What might this mean, to love God with all your mind?

The Bible is oozing with insight on these matters. It reveals Who the true God is, the Name you can use to reach Him in your prayers, the ways He warned people in the past. It also proclaims how He pardoned their sins, picked them up, and restored them.

You can even take what some people would call “simple” teaching from one of the Ten Commandments, and use your mind to dig into the Word and learn how that teaching is not “simple,” but deep and rich.It not only puts its finger on elementary subjects like dishonouring parents or stealing. It uncovers how that “simple” idea touches other actions you may never have thought of.

The Word goes on to show how that commandment—which at first looked simple—reveals the attitudes and motives of your inmost heart. It doesn’t stop there! The same holy commandment of the Lord, though spoken in a quick sentence, also points to many positive words and actions you can use to bring joy to your Father God and to brighten the lives of other people.

This doesn’t happen by your sitting around, imagining about God, and expecting Him to come and “zap” you with wisdom and knowledge. He could do that, of course. He has never promised to work that way, however. On the other hand, He has clearly promised through the Scriptures to thoroughly equip His people for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). When you read the Word, ponder its teaching, perhaps ask your pastor questions about it and discuss what it means for you in everyday life, it’s a way of devoting your thinking powers—your mind—to the love of the Lord, Who loved you first.

The deeper you go into Scripture, the more you discover that using your mind this way is not primarily about knowing facts. No, the truths the Lord reveals are there to drive you closer to Jesus. St. Paul put it like this, “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). He wanted to use his mind—not merely to get hooked up to more information but to get more hooked up to his Saviour Jesus.

I’m convinced we need more of the Christian faithful to love God with their minds better than believers often do. If someone objects that Jesus told us to become like little children, it’s important to remember that little children aren’t satisfied to stay where they are. They’re always striving and struggling to reach higher, to grow stronger, to understand better.

We need more of the Christian faithful to love God with their minds better than believers often do.

The world where the Lord has placed you and me is becoming more challenging to Biblical Christians with each passing year. It’s time to put our minds to work to grasp more sharply what God is teaching in His holy Word, and to ponder the strongest way to use what He teaches to respond to the ideas around us.

“Prepare your minds for action,” wrote Peter at another challenging time (1 Peter 1:13). I expect it would take many years of reading, praying, talking and pondering to reach the point where you’d be like the old pastor who said, “I’m thinking about God all the time.” But the One Who commands you to love Him with all your mind is ready to form in you the mind of Christ more fully with each passing day, month and year.

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Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee is President of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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