The stuff that makes us up as human beings boils down to three parts: spirit, soul/mind, and body. In the Christian world, you don’t have to go very far to find some rules about how we use our body. Don’t go here, don’t eat or drink this, don’t listen to that, don’t say this. . . There is also a lot of talk about what it means to be have our spirit in tune with God. There are teachings (and debate) about what it means to be Spirit-filled, to be lead by the Spirit, to move in the Spirit.
But what about the mind? What role does it play in the Christian life? Are we living a mindless Christianity?
Yesterday our pastor’s sermon took a moment to remind us that if we lived according to the Word of God, many of our struggles would disappear. There are guidelines in Scripture that spell things out for us to the point that, knowing what they are, all we have to do is choose to obey them.
As an example, Paul tells us, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). I remember being in high school and considering dating a girl that believed differently than I do on major points of Christianity. She was great to hang out with, and we were in choir together, and we might have developed something. But I knew Paul’s words, knew God’s call on my life, and made the decision early on that we’d have to stay friends. Going beyond that wasn’t an option.
But how many of us can honestly say that we take the time to think through what we do, from dating to what we talk about with friends, to major decisions in our lives? We don’t sit and consider, we don’t reason with our minds what we’ve pledged to obey as followers of Christ.
With this in the back of my mind, I was reading through a small group study guide this morning. It referred to Jesus words in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Here’s what it said:
Christians have all too often neglected the command to love God with our minds, not just our hearts. This is a result of emphasizing feeling over thinking.
I immediately thought back to pastor’s words from Sunday morning. Why do we have sex before marriage? Why do we get involved in questionable relationships and business deals? Why does the Church look so much like the world? We’re wrapped up in how we feel instead of taking the time to think about what we’re supposed to be doing.
Do we have a distorted perception of what it means to live in the Spirit? This generation has a greater focus on freedom and grace than what has been the tradition for hundreds of years. We believe that we’re saved by grace and not works (see Ephesians 2:8-9). We rejoice that we do not face condemnation (see Romans 8:1). We choose to walk in the Spirit. But what does that mean to us?
We’ve come to believe that walking in the Spirit means that as long as God’s conviction or judgment doesn’t fall on us instantly, we’re doing alright. We’re not killing anyone, we’re not robbing banks; but are we free from sin?
We used to live under the curse, and we lived in sin without thinking about it. After all, who has to teach a two-year-old to lie to keep out of trouble? Our sinful nature was instinct, it wasn’t something we had to decide to fall in line with; it was instinct to sin.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that when are made into new creations in Christ that we will be able to live instinctively for God in the same way we did for sin. Where does Scripture tell us that? Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Paul, an apostle and at the time writing what we consider to be Scripture, said, “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave….When I want to do good, evil is there with me….What miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death” (Romans 9:14-24, NCV).
When did it become popular to believe that living in Christ was a life of ease, of coasting through to the end when God “rewards” us for tagging along for the ride?
I understand why it’s the way we think today. Everyone wants something for nothing. Somewhere in our hearts we ask, “If eternal life is a free gift, why should I have to work at it? If it only comes by grace, why waste the energy on works that won’t earn me anything?”
Did God really intend for us to live unaffected by words that He inspired over thousands of years? Words that He saved from persecution to be available to us today. Words that are “God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way” (2 Timothy 3:16, The Message).
Jesus called us to love God with all that we are, and that includes our minds.
God, help us to live mindful of You, Your Word, Your purposes in our lives and this world. Don’t let us fall into the trap of mindlessness. Instill in us the truth that living for You is not automatic, it is not easy, but it is worth it all.