Summary: This is the fourth in a series of messages I did on the Great Commandment from Mark 12.
September 22, 2002
Let My People Think!
“Most Christians would rather die than think—in fact, they do!” So said Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of Christians, but a man who has a point to make.
There exists within the church an unfortunate aversion to thinking on the part of many; in fact, there is almost a hostility in some quarters! I remember hearing it said of one of the old-time preachers of what we’d call the "fundamentalist" label, that he made the following statement: "I’d rather a man say ’I seen’ and seen something, than say ’I have seen’ and ain’t seen nothin’!" Well, umm...in one sense, I see his point, but at the same time, does an air of grammatical ignorance rightly adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ? In fact, does any type of ignorance rightly adorn the gospel? Any dichotomy between rigorous thinking and sincere discipleship is a false dichotomy, because Jesus tells us to love God with our minds! Would you stand together with me as we read our text?
I have to admit: I let out a chuckle, I think, the first time I found out the name of the “Bible” major at Grove City College. They call it “Christian Thought”. I’m sure I asked the first Christian Thought major I ever met what he planned to do with the degree; just sit around and think about Jesus all the time? And then I did something…I thought about it. And the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Why? Because as Christians we need to reclaim, on the basis of the command of Jesus, part of Priority One, the Scriptural truth that loving God completely involves loving Him with our minds. I get excited when I talk about this subject, so hang on, because here we go!
I. What does it mean to love God with our minds?
Is that just a cliché, or is “loving God with our minds “ something we can quantify? Os Guinness, to whom I’ll refer possibly several times in this message, refers to loving God with our minds as “thinking Christianly”. When we use our minds to think in a way that honors the Lordship of Jesus, then we love God with them, we “think Christianly.” Let’s begin by clearing up
A. What it does not involve
When we speak of “thinking Christianly”, we are not merely speaking, first, of
1. “Thinking by Christians”
Just because you happen to be a follower of Jesus Christ does not necessarily mean that you love God with your mind; it does not mean that you “think Christianly.” It is possible to have a born again soul and to have a mind that still operates by the principles of this world. Paul tells us, in Romans 12, that transformation takes place in our lives “by the renewing of our minds”, and he gives it in the form of a command to Christians! It is possible that you’ve turned your life over to Jesus, and asked Him to forgive your sins; it is possible for you to have placed such trust in Jesus, and yet not have a mind that operates with His Lordship in mind.
I don’t mean to offend when I make this comment, but recently, I was in attendance at a function, on the Grove City campus, with one of the leading Christian proponents of the family in the world. This man has access to the highest levels of U.S. government; he lives in D.C. and speaks almost daily, he said, with the top advisor to President Bush, and of course has had many chances to speak with the President himself. During the Q/A session, questions were raised regarding the disappointment which many Christians have had with some of the policy decisions made by the President. “He claims to be a Christian,” some said, “and yet he seems to have made a number of decisions which we would think run counter to Christian principles.” The gentleman’s answer was interesting. He said that, while he truly believes that our president is a follower of Jesus Christ, the president seems like a man with only a partially-developed Christian worldview. The idea was that the president doesn’t fully grasp what it means to submit his mind to the Lordship of Jesus in his decision-making. Interesting analysis, that, for the fact is that it is possible to do this. Just “thinking by Christians” does not equal loving God with our minds!
2. Adopting the “Christian position”
The rise of the so-called “Christian right” in the realm of politics has been a development with both its positive and negative points. I believe that we have a right and responsibility to bring the Lordship of Christ to bear on the highest levels of power in our land; there is nothing wrong and everything right in principle, if not in the practices of some, with involvement in the political process. At the same time, this has given rise to the idea that, perhaps, there is a “Christian position” on most all of the political issues that come down the pike. This is just simply not the case. To be sure, there are some issues wherein it might be said that there exists such a Christian position—but these issues are not nearly so numerous as they are made out to be. I have, for instance, a point of view on the minimum wage, and Social Security, and the drug war, and gun control, and whether or not we ought to go into Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein (and by the way, don’t assume that you know what my positions are!). My positions are informed by my Christian convictions. At the same time, I’m not sure that there is a “Christian position” in any of these areas or 100 others like them—in other words, there are other Christians, who take the Lordship of Jesus as seriously as I try to if not more so, who would take a different, even an opposite, position! Thinking Christianly is not a matter of finding out the “Christian position” on every issue—because one does not exist for every issue—and then adopting that position!