Why Loving God With All Your Mind Matters

By Published on August 1, 2017

I know a pastor whose study contained a desk, a kneeler and a couple of chairs.

The desk and its chair were well worn from hours of study. Most of the books that lined the shelves around the room had been opened and carefully studied.

The kneeler was not far from the desk and faced a window overlooking trees and rolling hills in a country setting. It also was well worn from many hours of use. Sometimes the pastor would study something that led him to praise God, give thanks, or feel a need to repent. He would quickly move from the desk to the kneeler.

Knowing (study), feeling (piety) and doing (ministry) are integrally related. If you neglect any one, you will in effect lose all three.

In the study, there were also a couple of soft chairs often used for counseling, mentoring or spiritual direction. After such sessions the pastor would often move to the desk to study questions and issues raised or to the kneeler to pray for the people and the situations of concern.

Study, piety and ministry as pictured in the desk, kneeler and chair are connected. Remove one, and you damage the other two.

  • If you get rid of the desk, you lose depth in prayer (kneeler) and substance in ministry (chairs).
  • If you get rid of the kneeler, you may have deep knowledge (desk) and consistent practice (chairs), but you will lack passion and joy, perhaps ending up with a cold, passionless legalism and moralism that will inevitably become weary in well doing.
  • If you get rid of the chairs, you end up with theoretical thought (desk) or piety (kneeler) that makes little difference in peoples’ lives.

If you neglect any one of these — study, piety or ministry — you will in effect lose all three.

One problem in our world, including the church, is the failure to see the connection between what we do, what we think, and what we feel. In other words, we don’t understand the relationship between knowing, feeling and doing. Thus, we fail to manifest wise, passionate practice that would demonstrate to the world the truth we profess.

Here, I will tackle the critical place of knowing (the desk).

How We Can Know Objective Reality

The Bible gives a solid basis for knowing and doing, grounded in an infinite, personal God who exists and who reveals himself in scripture. The world God created is real and good. We are created in God’s image with a capacity to reason, feel and act. We are also created to respond to a real God, respond to real people and exercise dominion over a real creation. We are created to respond to reality. Sin certainly does distort our perception of reality, and we have limits on the extent of our knowledge; but there is nevertheless that which is true, good and real objectively, and we can know it, at least in part.

The problem is not loving God too much with your mind but, perhaps, loving God with your heart and soul too little.

Why We are Given Reason

God gave you the ability to know and reason for a purpose. In Matthew 22:37, Christ calls us to love God with all of your heart, with all your soul, and with all of your mind. Unfortunately, not only is the mind devalued within the culture but also surprisingly within the church.

Perhaps some think that you can love God too much with your mind. Yet, can you love God too much with your heart or soul? I think not. The problem is not loving God too much with your mind but, perhaps, loving God with your heart and soul too little.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we are called to “destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” and “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The first part of this verse emphasizes a more negative or critical task of refuting objections to faith or alternative systems of thought. The second part stresses a positive task of taking every thought captive to Christ.

Biblical knowing involves more than mere cognition. It involves intimacy and responsibility.

A big problem in the church is that we have not emphasized loving God with our minds. The failure to pursue this task has led to a loss of influence in academia, media, science, government and the arts. Books such as The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, No Place for Truth, and Passion for Truth document this problem in contemporary society. 

Where Biblical Knowledge Leads: Intimacy and Obedience

Biblical knowing involves more than mere cognition. It involves intimacy and responsibility.

The Hebrew word for knowing is Yatha. When Genesis speaks of Adam knowing his wife, it uses this word. This knowing is more than sexual intimacy. In Psalm 1:6, it says that “the Lord knows the way of the righteous.” Notice it does not say earlier that the Lord knows the way of the wicked, although of course he knows about them. The phrase the “Lord knows” means cares for, gives approval to, has regard for, or loves the way of the righteous. In Matthew 7:23, Jesus says of those who say, “Lord, Lord” — “I never knew you,” although again, he knew about them. He didn’t know them in the sense of an intimate personal relationship. Our knowing is to lead to personal intimacy with God.

The Greek word for “hear” is Akuo, while the Greek word for “obey” is Hupakuo — which literally means “to hyper hear” or really hear. So, to really hear is to obey. There are those who hear yet fail to understand. There are those who see yet don’t perceive. No wonder the biblical writers often say, “Let him who has an ear to hear, let him hear.” It’s one thing to allow a truth to go into one ear and out the other. It’s another to allow God’s word to go into your ear, down into your heart, and out into your hands and feet.

Dedicate yourself to intimately knowing God in a way that results in enjoying Him (feeling) and happily laboring in the work of his kingdom (doing).

 

 
This article is adapted with permission from the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org). The original article appears here. IFWE is a Christian research organization committed to advancing biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society. Visit https://tifwe.org/subscribe to subscribe to the free IFWE Daily Blog.

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  • john appleseed

    Amen to this.
    I would add that our worship is heavy on emotion but very light on substance.
    Jesus commanded that we worship in spirit & in truth.
    This generation has got plenty of emotion in worship services, but the mind is numbed by endless repetition of shallow phrases that often could fit in a boy-girl love song.

  • pngmac

    Amen!

    Who is the author of Passion for Truth, identified in this article? A quick look on Amazon revealed at least six books with this title. Thanks.

    • I’m Art Lindsley’s colleague here at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and wanted to pass on that the “Passion for Truth” book he mentions in in the article s the one authored by Alister McGrath with the subtitle “The Intellectual Coherence of Evangelicalism.” Just chatted with Art in the hallway to verify!

      • pngmac

        Thank you!!

      • pngmac

        Thank you for your quick reply, unlike mine!

  • Stephen M. Zumbo

    Thank you for this article. It answers well the question that the title asks. And also helps me understand more fully what it means to love God with your whole mind, soul, and spirit, as the Lord commands. I believe I will long remember the visual aid of the story of the pastor’s study and the furniture therein.

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