The other evening, a friend and I were discussing, for lack of a better term, discipleship. Our focus was centered on the shema(Deut. 6:4-5). When we were talking about it, I was quoting the OT verses and he was quoting Jesus’ statement which includes the word “mind”. (A word not in the original Shema, but apparently added in the Septuagint. “Mind” is included in both Luke and Mark’s account of Jesus’ statement but not in Matthew’s.) Our conversation centered on what it meant to love God with your mind.
This is a hard thing. Naturally, when “mind” is introduced to the concept of discipleship, the focus is rightly centered on knowledge/understanding. That does not mean “emotions” are left hanging, it simply means the focus is not on “I know that I know” because I have experienced it and am emotionally vested, rather I know that I know because I have sought it out and have concluded that it can be no other way. The critical piece to employ in both camps is that similar to the Boreans, they were set to examine the Scriptures daily to see if what they heard was so (Acts 17:11). Often, however, emotion and experience take precedence and knowledge becomes at best, a nice to have.
An emotional investment in belief and understanding is good and a valuable part of our Christian experience. But it is important to remember Paul’s admonishment to not be “conformed to his world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). That is how we prove, approve, and determine the will of God and establish what is good, acceptable and perfect. Therefore, it is more than just the “heart, soul, and strength” – there is the “mind” and it is oft left to beg for its share of attention in genuine discipleship.
What does it mean to love the LORD our God with all our mind? As my friend and I talked about it, some of my thoughts were from a “want to” perspective. To love God with my mind means that I have a deep seated “want to” to know Him, understand His word, and yes, experience His presence. The other side of the conversation was directed to the study, examination, and coming to an understanding of God’s teaching. Both accurate from the standpoint of what the writer of Deuteronomy was attempting to stess regarding the commandments of the Law and the instruction for Israel to teach them diligently, talk of them, bind them, and write them on their heart, “lest (they) forget the LORD (Deut. 6:11).”
In my own pilgrimage, I am learning that knowing the what and why of my belief systems is essential to growing in Christ. That does not mean I divorce myself from the heart side, it simply means that I have chosen not to divorce myself from the mind side. I want the meat of the word, not just milk. I want to understand the scope of God’s involvement in history not just focus on my decision for Christ and think discipleship is listening to sermons and having cookies and juice fellowship. I want to ask the “why” and not simply focus on the “ooh and ah”. I am also learning that this is hard work, challenging work, and sometimes frustrating work. Nevertheless, as Eliphaz said to Job, “As for me, I would seek God and to God I will commit my cause… (5:8)”