Ephesians 4 : 23-24
...and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God
in true righteousness and holiness.
Nerd alert: I love school. Well, that’s not entirely true. I used to complain about it ALL the time in high school (just ask my dad). But by the time I got to college, I started to love being a student.
Fortunately for me, as a Christian, I am called to be a learner. I can just imagine some groans and eye rolls coming in response to that statement, but God cares about our brains! In fact, Jesus tells us in the greatest commandment that we are to love the Lord with all our minds (Matthew 22:37).
Whatever our attitude or performance has been in school, the Gospel helps us to find great joy in learning.
First of all, God is the Creator of all things, and nothing exists that was not made by Him. We should therefore delight to learn about His creation and to see the ways it reflects Him. Whether you most enjoy math, literature, science, music, or some other field of study, every discipline can help us to understand more about our creative God.
Second, the Gospel shows us that we are not detached observers of this world or of the Bible. We are part of God’s story. We are image bearers who were made to reflect God. Understanding Him more helps us understand more about who we are. Learning about Jesus is not merely an academic pursuit. It is personal. It impacts our lives and defines our identity.
Finally, the Gospel changes our minds. In Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul describes the futility and sinfulness of minds that have not been shaped by the Gospel. He says that those are darkened in their understanding, hard-hearted, and callous. He then makes this contrast in verses 20-24:
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The Gospel softens our hard hearts so that we may become teachable and be made more into the likeness of God. It shapes not only our thoughts but also our affections and actions.
What does it look like to love God with our minds?
Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Study and meditate on His Word. Memorize Scripture.
- Ask the Holy Spirit for understanding. Again, learning about Jesus is not merely an academic endeavor. We need Him to teach us.
- Read. Whether the material is on explicitly Christian topics or not, it can stretch the intellect and imagination God gave you.
- Learn about other people and cultures and how God is working and reflected in them.
- Learn new things. Period. As I said before, God made everything, so learning about His creation helps us to worship and glorify Him in new ways as we discover more about Him.
- Be open to correction. Avoid intellectual arrogance.
Loving Jesus does not mean we check our minds at the door. God does not throw intellect, logic, and reason out the window. However, intellect, logic, and reason are not our highest values; there are things about God that don’t fit into the boxes of our limited brains (Isaiah 55:8-9).
So push yourself to the limit of your understanding and keep asking questions and discovering all you can. We know God has all the answers even though He may not reveal them all to us (Deuteronomy 29:29). But isn’t that part of the wonder of who He is? May knowing more of Him become our greatest joy.