“What do you have in there worth living for?” That is just one of many quotable lines from The Princess Bride. Miracle Max was trying to find out if he could rescue the young Wesley from certain death. Turns out he was only “mostly dead.” What came out of Wesley when Miracle Max pressed on him was “true love.” It is always a great story: true love is never satisfied; true love conquers all. True love has an insatiable desire to know more and more about the object of its affection. To love God with all of our minds is to want to learn more and more about Him, to know Him better and better. It is to have a constant curiosity about God. And the really cool thing about this is that God has given us the brains to accommodate this curiosity about Him.
The average brain is only the size of a softball and weighs about 3 pounds, yet neurologists estimate that we have the capacity to learn something new every second of every minute of every hour of every day for the next 300 million years. We have the mental equipment to love God.
So, then, to just want to know the right answers about God and Scripture without putting any thinking behind it is to miss the whole point of Christianity. Simply wanting the Cliffs Notes to the Bible and/or perusing God For Dummies is to miss the entire direction of love. Loving God is about curiosity and learning, a desire to know the object of my affection.
Since we are to love God with our minds, we ought to invite questions and curiosity rather than shutting it down. Adults of all stripes: kids and teenagers and college students who ask questions is a good thing; let them flex their brains. There are too many adult Christians in this world that feel threatened by healthy robust questioning. We are not just to fill up with correct information, as if the sheer accumulation of right doctrine is all there is to it. We are to have a deep experiential knowledge of God that leads to learning about him more and more. It is never satisfied, and the learning never ends. Our minds are like muscles – they must be used and exercised on a consistent basis because if we stop learning we stop loving. And I’m not talking about Sodoku puzzles. I’m talking about stretching our minds with reading Scripture and good Christian books. I’m talking about getting into discussions about God, Christ, and the Bible that broadens our understanding and deepens our faith.
We are to love God with all our minds; loving God with half your brain isn’t going to cut it. Some people are dominantly left-brained people, that is, they are bent toward being logical, analytical, practical, and think mostly in concrete black and white terms. There are other people who are heavily right-brained, that is, they are much more artistic, intuitive, creative, imaginative, humorous, even sarcastic, and tend to speak more poetically with lots of satire and metaphors. If we are to love God with all our minds we will seek to use all of our brains, both the right and the left parts of it.
One of the problems we run into is that the mind of sinful people is death (Romans 8:6). Death means separation. They are separated from God in their minds. To have a sinful mind is to have a small brain. The sinful mind isn’t interested in genuine critical thinking – only in stubbornly expressing opinions. Sinful people aren’t using their brains, or only a small part of them. But God wants to sanctify our whole brains. That means we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We are to use all our minds to love Him. That means we will value the left brain orientation of desiring to know the bottom line and being results driven. We will embrace order and discipline, and use all the tools of reason and logic, learning critical thinking skills that can serve us in growing and knowing and loving God and God’s people. But it also means we will value the right brain orientation of embracing mystery, paradox, and gray areas, enjoying the process of discovery and probing the deepest issues of scripture and humanity - all the while being comfortable with asking questions and not always having the answers.
Loving God means we will tap into all our minds, not just half our brains. The Bible itself engages us in a mentally holistic approach. We have, for example, the linear arguments of New Testament epistles, as well as the creative and poetic approach of the prophets and the psalms. We are to combine the right brain value of viewing the Christian life as a road in which we journey along, and the left brain pursuit of the goal to win the prize for which we are called heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Do you love God with all your mind? How can you engage all of your brain to love God? What contribution can you make to God’s people with your intelligence and creativity? Will you seek to have your mind renewed? May your mind be so flooded with God’s grace that the thoughts and words that come out of it is true love.