Thinking Christians

A Pharisee who was a teacher of the Law asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments(Matthew 22:36-40).

Jesus’ citation of the greatest commandment in the Old Testament states, in part, that God’s purpose is for people to love him “with all your mind.” God wants people to think about him, and to love him with recognized purpose and understanding. God wants us to think! God never has sought for people to follow him in ignorance or without thought or information. Love for God, and faith in God, call for the engagement of the human mind, for thought and consideration, for seeking knowledge and understanding.

When Moses gave his final speech to the children of Israel before his death, he said:

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

Moses was telling his people that God’s word and therefore his will were something they could know and understand. The word of God, his commandments and promises, were things people could know, could talk about, could think about, and could put into action. God has spoken so that mankind can hear, know, and obey him. Again, this calls for using the mind God gave us, thinking about what God has said, having his word in our conversations and in our hearts (see also Isaiah 45:18-19).  God has communicated clearly, to be understood.

When the church comes together, especially on the first day of the week, Paul the apostle stressed in 1 Corinthians 14 how important it is that what is done publicly be intelligible and orderly, that there be understandable, sensible words in the teaching, praying, and singing. Repeatedly, Paul wrote that what is done in the gathering of the church must be clear and coherent, and have helpful content for building up (edifying) all who participate and all who hear.

So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15. See also verses 9 and19).

In the Bible, ignorance, lack of understanding, and futile or misdirected thoughts are shown to be things that separate people from God. Conversely, Christians are encouraged to pursue understanding, knowledge, and right thinking as fundamental to knowing God and living as he commands. Ignorance and an unwillingness to think, examine, and learn have no place in the life Christians have been called to. Rather, it is the worldly, the ungodly, who engage in futile thinking, choosing ignorance and rejecting the truth we all ought to investigate and embrace.

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.  They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts (Ephesians 4:17-18.  See also Isaiah 44:12-20, a dramatic and ironic description of futile thinking, of really not thinking, of idolatry, especially verses18-20).

The Lord wants his people to think about good things, things that are pure, excellent and praiseworthy (see Philippians 4:8). What we think about matters, and being thoughtful is vitally important. God wants us to use our minds to love him, to be thankful, to know the truth, to give him praise and glory. And, again, as in 1 Corinthians 14 the Lord wants his people to think about how to build each other up in faith, encouraging love and good deeds. Christians are to “consider how” to make each other stronger, better, and especially to think about how to do this in the fellowship of the gathered church. Church meetings call for thinking!

 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

It is important, it is vital, it is commanded by the Lord, that the believer’s mind be engaged in loving God, worshiping God, teaching and encouraging other believers, recognizing truth and rejecting falsehood, learning and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants his people to use the minds he has given us in his service. He wants us to think, to reason, to learn, and to appreciate the wisdom he has made available to us.

Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding (Proverbs 23:23).