Recently, I spent an afternoon with my youth group distributing food to people in our community. Somehow, the topic of apologetics came up in a conversation between me and one of the adults. After they told me they have no interest in learning why they believe in Christianity, I asked them one of my favorite questions.
“What are you going to do when a friend, who is not a Christian, asks you for a reason for the hope that you have in Christ?”
“Oh, I’ll call you.”
I was at a loss for how to respond, mainly because I was shocked at their admission of having no desire to know why they believed in Christianity. Sadly, this mindset isn’t unique. A large portion of the church, whether consciously or unconsciously, has little to no desire to learn the why behind the faith they claim. What this individual failed to realize was that Jesus calls us not only to love God with all our strength and heart and soul but also with all our minds (Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27).
What Does it Mean to ‘Love God with the Mind?’
Before we get too far, let’s briefly discuss what it means to love God with the mind.
The intellectual part of our faith is an important component to having a deep love for God. Without this component of intellect, it’s difficult to have a meaningful relationship with the Lord that goes beyond momentary emotions.
God calls us to love him not just emotionally, but intellectually as well. In Mark 12:30, Jesus tells us to love the Lord with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” In this commandment, Jesus put loving God with the heart, soul, and strength on an equal level as loving God with the mind! All four of these facets of love for God are of equal importance and necessity. Therefore, all four should be taken with equal seriousness and devotion.
Again in 2 Corinthians 10:5, Christians are called to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” To be able to discern which arguments are set against the knowledge of God implies that we first know the knowledge of God ourselves. That involves using our minds, not merely emotional affection.
In short, loving God with the mind is to allow the mind and heart to work together in a way that produces a deeper knowledge of God. This knowledge in turn leads to a more intimate relationship with God where God is loved both intellectually and emotionally.
What Happens When We Don’t Love God with the Mind?
However, too often in the Christian faith, we focus solely on emotional affection toward God in our relationship with Him. While affection toward God is a part of the Christian experience, as we have seen, it isn’t the only part. So, what happens when someone neglects to love God with their mind? I’m glad you asked!
Think about the closest person in your life. Why are they the closest to you? Is it because you met once and had a great conversation and left it at that? Of course not! You both continued to learn about each other. Over time, what once was knowing about (the mind) one another turned into knowing each other (the heart). This heart-knowledge led to a deeper intimacy in relationship. It’s not a coincidence that the closest people in our lives are also those who know the most about us, especially the deep secrets, insecurities, regrets, and struggles that we face.
But, how well can you truly know them if you don’t first know about them? You have to start somewhere, right? That’s why learning facts, life details, and random information about them is not the goal. Rather, this external, surface information becomes the launching pad for genuinely knowing them—their passions, fears, desires, and struggles; the very core and heart of who they are. This deeper knowing should always be the goal in our relationships with others.
The same is true for God. We strive to know about God (the mind) so we can more accurately know him (the heart). Loving God with the mind creates the ability to love him with the heart. When we fail to do this, our ability to intimately love him with the heart is minimized and hindered.
In other words, ignorance about God limits us from having the relationship with him that he wants us to have and unavoidably makes our faith unable to grow into what God wants it to be.
If you’re a Christian who has not sought to love God with your mind in this way, you may be starting to feel bad or guilty for not doing so. Before those feelings set in, please allow me to speak these words from my heart:
Don’t feel guilty. It’s never too late to start loving God with all that you are, because of God’s infinite love for you. God is a God of forgiveness and compassion, and right now, he extends that to you. Pray that God would show you ways to love him with all that you are, including your mind. There are many reliable resources to get you started, so don’t worry. You are never alone!
How to Begin Loving God with the Mind
To help, I want to provide some ways to help you begin loving God with your mind. Remember, knowing about God is a big step closer to knowing him.
1. Pray for God’s wisdom and knowledge.
Ask him to guide you as you seek to love him with your mind as well as your heart and soul. Doing this will reveal your need and spiritual hunger to truly love God with all that you are. If you ask him and you truly seek to love him with the mind, he will answer.
2. Dedicate your mind to knowing him.
After praying, this is the first step to loving God deeper and more profoundly than ever before. The way you can do this practically is by reading books, online resources, listening to podcasts, and watching YouTube channels dedicated to the intellectual side of Christianity. I’ll provide a few resources at the end of this article so you will have a place to start.
3. Think clearly about God’s character so you won’t have false ideas about him in your mind.
As Christians, we would all say we know who God is. But the truth is that we often misperceive God’s character, nature, and commands by letting our personal thoughts, experiences, and biases mold the picture of God we hold in our minds. But as C.S. Lewis says,
My idea of God is not a true idea… I need Christ, not something that resembles him… Not my idea of God, but God.C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
To truly know God intellectually, we have to know the truth of his character and nature. The best way to start doing this is by reading Scripture, meditating on what it says about God and his character, and listening to sermons about what you read. Another way to do it is by reading books that aim to help Christians think critically about other ideas so that they aren’t deceived by false ideology. The first book I recommend to anyone on this is Tactics by Greg Koukl, which provides Christians with a game plan to talk and think about their Christian convictions with discernment.
These three points should get you started on the right track to loving God with your mind! Embarking on this journey of loving God with your mind will deepen your relationship with Him in a way that’s biblical and fruitful. As you seek to love God with all that you are, may the truths you discover transform you from your heart to your mind, and to the very core of your soul.
Resources I recommend:
7. DesiringGod.org (this resource provides articles, sermons, books, podcasts)
Come back tomorrow for an article by Katelyn Brown that digs even deeper on loving God with your mind. She’ll be discussing the benefits of loving God with the mind and cautioning us on the pitfalls of focusing on intellect too much!