Here is something every Christian needs to understand – God is after your mind. Truth be told, God is after more than just your mind. He is looking for, and rightly deserves, followers who will love Him with all their heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27). However, for our conversation today it is sufficient to say God cares about your mind.
I grew up in a church that seemed to downplay the connection between faith and intellect. It was almost as if faith and knowledge were two competing entities. They never actually came out and said, “Knowledge and reason are bad” but you could have easily walked away with that perception. My church experience is likely not all that unusual. After all, we live our life by faith, and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). In the attempt to avoid the ditch of rationalism (reason is the supreme authority) it is easy for one to fall into the opposite ditch of anti-intellectualism.
Reason, knowledge and intellect are not evil. Rather, they are wonderful gifts given to us by a good God. Why else would God invite us to “reason together” with Him (Isa 1:18), or Paul pray (Phil 1:9) that our love “abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment”? The thing we must remember is that although we are to live our life by faith, the faith we live by is reasonable. Our faith is not blind; it is bound – bound to the Word of God. The more it is bound the less it is blind. Christian faith is, and has always been, both intellectually deep and theologically rich.
Not only is it good and right to exercise our mind and grow in the knowledge of God – it is our responsibility (Col 1:10, 1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 1:5). The consequences of ignoring this responsibility can be quite steep. Hosea 4:6 comes out and says that God’s people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge. Understood in context Israel’s lack of knowledge was not mere ignorance, but active sin against God. How were they sinning against God? The people were only ignorant of the Law because they actively ignored it. This can be quite sobering when I look back and see how many times I have willingly embraced ignorance rather than invest the effort to know God’s Word more deeply.
Growing in your knowledge of God’s Word isn’t purely an intellectual exercise. On the contrary, it is very much a spiritual endeavour. We have been given the Holy Spirit who makes an impossible task possible. As we carefully study and meditate on the Word of God, the Spirit enlightens our mind (1 Cor 2:14-16). He enlightens our mind so that it might be renewed, resulting in a transformation of our character and behaviour (Rom 12:2). We may do the work of studying and growing in knowledge, but God is the one who enlightens and renews.
All this knowledge and enlightening of the mind is well and good, but there can be a dark side to knowledge. That is a conversation I will leave for another day.
To Be Continued