Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Loving God with the Mind

The other day Sarah asked me why the Old Testament said to love God with all your heart and soul and strength whereas the New Testament always said to love God with all your heart and soul and MIND. I looked it up. She's right. In all three Gospel accounts it says to love God with your mind.

Why does Jesus switch might for mind?

Is it because the strength of our love is determined by what we think?

I suppose that for me, loving God with my mind has always been very important concept. I find the idea of switching off my brain in order to practice my faith decidedly unattractive. Besides, I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s when New England was known as "the preacher's graveyard" and in that hostile environment it took more than a few warm fuzzies at church to carry me through the week. It had to be true or it wasn't worth it. And if it was true it couldn't be ignored.

But how do we love God with our minds? And what is a Christian mind?


Luke Elliot said...

Yes, I believe my testimony at Tanabu Church in a couple of Sundays is going to begin: "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied" (I Cor. 15:19). If it's not true, it's not worth it!

Laurie Elliot said...

I wish I could be there to hear you!

Sarah (Gosho) said...

I like thinking about loving God with our MIND...I also like thinking about CS Lewis account of LOVE... that "love IS God" not "God is love."

Janet said...

Maybe your mind IS your strength? In this context, they could be synonyms.

Laurie Elliot said...

Yes, Sarah and I finally decided they were synonyms here.

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Anonymous said...

1 Timothy 1:7 But God has not give us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - I think they all go together.
To me a sound mind means both psychological strength in the form of God's peace, as well as spiritual strength from His wisdom, understanding and knowlege. I agree fully that it is important to keep your mind alert. God Bless, Laurel

Stevie said...

Hi Laurie,
Sorry this long...

I once listened to a sermon on this very passage about the mind and it has stuck in my mine. Apparently it comes from the difference in the Hebrew and Greek world views. The Hebrew world view is a bit more "fluffy" and so the meanings of words can be quite abstract and everthing is considered connected. The Greek's on the other hand with their history in philosophical debating compartmentalised and defined everything within an inch of it's life so that the heart and mind were very seperate things.

The Hebrew word "Heart" is the one that includes the faculties that we as a wester Greek-based culture associate with the mind, and is primarily concerned with out thoughts, opinions, etc. It's often used for anything that's at our CENTRE, and the proverb "As a man thinks in his heart, so he is" helps to demonstrate this. I would say you honour God's commandment in this resepct with your decision to not let TV be determinent of your thoughts.

So what about the Hebrew word "Strength" then? Well, the sermon I heard said that this word goes way beyond the English "Strength" and extends to everything that you are - your 'yourness'. Actually I personally think that the way the radical for Strength in Japanese (Chikara / RYOKU) is included into words like ability (nouryoku), demostrates more of a Hebrew way of thinking than a Greek one.

Perhaps Jesus left it out of his Greek translation because heart, soul and mind together in Greek communicate the same message God intended in the Old testement? I can't actually remember if the preacher said that or if it's the result of the thinking I've done since.

If you're interested more about how to love God with your mind, I recommend a book by Joyce Myer "Battlefield of the Mind". It's simple to read, but the reason I like it most is because she supports her ideas with scripture, and when you read the scriptures, they don't appear pulled totally out context like some books do. If you can't get hold of it, I'll mail you my copy once my freind returns it :)