Loving God with Our Minds
Baptists, throughout their history, have not been a people who value education or intellect. We are a people of emotions. A thoughtful and rational presentation of the gospel was considered to be “old, dry religion.” We would much prefer a sermon that tugged at our hearts and made us tear up a little. That was heart-felt religion and, of course, more real and authentic.
Life is more complicated than that. We are more complicated than that. To live well, the entire person—mind, body, and soul—must be engaged. For instance, a good career involves the total person. A great job challenges the mind, satisfies the soul, and flows from the heart’s passion. A great marriage is a marriage of great love where passions and intellects are engaged and challenged.
Our faith must engage the total person as well. This means loving God with your mind. How do you that? First, this means accepting the challenge to think deeply about our faith.
What does it mean to be a Christ-follower? What does it mean to apply the teachings of Jesus to current issues and challenges? What are the consequences of grace and mercy in a world of terrorism and violence? Most of these questions are hard and require a focus of attention and effort few of us can master so most of us give up.
When we give up, two things happen: 1) The obvious one is that our faith becomes purely emotional. This is great as long as we are “feeling it” but when the feeling leaves, as they always do, so does our faith. 2) Second, because we do commit ourselves to think in a disciplined manner about our faith, we cannot answer the rational questions asked by our world. Neither outcome is desirable.
How then, do we love God with our mind?
First, study His Word. Note, I said study, not read. Spend days with a passage. Understand every word. Read the related passages. Think through the truth God is bringing in this passage.
Second, read the great books of the faith. A lot of religious publishing is cotton candy—very sweet with little substance. Read great writers such as C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and Annie Dillard. I don’t agree with everything I read, but I need to be challenged and pushed. These and other writers push me to think through my assumptions.
This all takes work, but it’s work with a huge payoff. God isn’t honored by lazy minds. He isn’t glorified by stupidity. The kingdom needs great minds thinking hard about the faith. It’s one of the best ways we can love Christ and serve our world. After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.