Many have written of, spoken about and acted upon the “second greatest” commandment of Jesus Christ: Loving your neighbor as yourself. We don’t hear as much about the greatest commandment: Love God with all your soul and your mind. I suppose that’s because most of us relate more to life from an emotional standpoint and because Christianity is often offered as a solution to felt needs.
Our faith is based on a propositional truth: namely the life, death and resurrection of a historical figure. The response to that propositional truth involves emotion and living a faith from day to day intersects with felt needs. But many good people never become followers of Christ because they can’t get their heads around it. They just don’t believe it. And shallow statements and half-truths by well-intentioned saints – not to mention half-hearted lifestyles - often do more harm than good. In the book, Love Your God With All Your Mind, J.P. Morelandwrites that the growing anti-intellectualism in the church has resulted in the marginalization of Christianity in society and the emergence of the most secular culture the world has ever seen. The real problem for us shows up when tough times hit and our house-of-cards belief system tumbles down because we’re used to “putting our hands together” but not our heads.
Truth becomes relational when we come to Christ, but truth is objective before it becomes experiential. Today, through words and lifestyle we stand up for the Story we find ourselves in just as Jesus did and as the Apostle Paul and the disciples did. It is the story of Jesus coming to earth, living a sinless life, being crucified, buried and resurrected.It’s the Story of how the Holy Spirit gives us the power to live every day. It’s about how life is going somewhere, and that our lives can be purpose-filled. If we’re not embracing that narrative and staying true to it in our minds, we’re not yet at the loving God stage.
Loving God with our minds isn’t as intimidating as it first appears. It might involve studying the life of Christ, reading a good book on philosophy or pausing before we say something that is entirely acceptable as American theology, but biblically inaccurate. Loving God with our minds is the first commandment because we have to know truth and love it before we can send anyone else in that direction.
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1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your love for God?
2. What are some specific ways you could use your mind to share your faith?
1 Peter 3:15; Romans 12:1,2
Dan Johnson is the Lead Pastor of Next Church in Tacoma, Washington and CEO of the Next Leadership Association
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