- The Revd Camellia Flanagan
Loving God with our minds
190616 Trinity C, Proverbs 8 1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8, Romans 5.1-5 John 16: 12-15
+ In the name of the holy Trinity. Amen
When Moses led the Children of Israel we find him again telling them of the commandments of God in Deuteronomy Chapter 6 saying something like this: “ Hear therefore O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you ……You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might…” When Jesus answered the lawyer as reported in Matthew 22 he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” but as reported in Mark 12 Jesus answered the scribe “….you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength….”
Jesus included loving God with our mind in addition to loving God as Moses had taught, with all our heart, soul and might.
What does it mean to love God with all our mind? Before we can fathom this can we need to know God. Can we first know God intellectually, to dedicate our minds to seeking the wisdom we need to understand God’s way, then we can turn our minds to the emotional embrace of loving God. We can only dedicate our minds in this way through the help and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Unlike Children of Israel we can seek the Spirit’s guidance to give wisdom and understanding to our faith.
What is this wisdom we need to help us? Wisdom we are told in Proverbs is portrayed as a woman who guides us. Wisdom was present at the creation and works with the Creator. God says wisdom is primary and fundamental. It is the foundation on which all life is built.
Saint Paul and Saint John may have alluded to some of King Solomon’s statements about Wisdom to describe Christ’s presence at the creation of the world as found in Colossians 1: 15-17 and 2:3 Revelation 3:14 When God was creating, fashioning an earthling from the dust of the earth as Fr Greg reminded us last Sunday, God in creating, getting her hands dirty, breathed into the nostrils of the earthling, fashioned from the earth and so created a living soul. This Creation was with the wisdom Christ, the firstborn over all creation who is not only equal to God, he is God. As the image of the invisible God, he is the exact representation of God and not only reflects God, but he reveals God to us. He is before all things and is Spirit reflecting God to us who are from the dust of the earth. And in our faith, this Spirit of Christ, this wisdom, gives us understanding.
We need to keep in mind the two-sided reality of the Christian life. On the one hand we are complete in Christ (our acceptance with him is secure). On the other hand, we are growing in Christ – we are becoming more and more like him. At one and the same time we have the status of kings and the duties of slaves. We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin. We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God, but we still face daily problems that often help us grow. If we remember these two sides of the Christian life, we will not grow discouraged as we face temptations and problems. Instead, we will learn to depend on the power available to us from Christ, who lives in us by the Holy Spirit.
Saint Paul reminds us that as believers, we stand in a place of highest privilege, we are standing in the Grace of God. Not only has God has drawn us close to himself, instead of being enemies, we have become his friends, so much so that we are called the children of God. As Saint Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, faith, hope and love are at the heart of the Christian life. Our relationship with God begins with faith, which helps us realize that we are delivered from our past by Christ’s death. Hope grows as we learn all that God has in mind for us. It gives us the promise of the future. As God’s love fills our lives and gives us the ability to reach out to others we are becoming Christlike.
Saint Paul tells us that in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome. This means we will experience difficulties that help us grow. As the early Christians did, we rejoice in suffering not because we like pain, or deny its tragedy, but because we know God is using life’s difficulties to build our character. The problems that we run into will develop our perseverance – which in turn will strengthen our character, give us greater confidence about the future. deepen our trust in God and help us to grow in understanding the wisdom of God.
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are all involved in our growing and in our salvation. The Father loved us so much that he sent his Son to bridge the gap between us. (John 3 16) The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit to fill our lives with love, give us wisdom and to enable us to live by his power. With all this loving care, how can we do less than love and serve him completely? Christ’s death on the cross made a personal relationship with God available to us. The truth into which the Holy Spirit guides us is the truth about Christ.
The Spirit also helps us through patient practice to discern right from wrong. With faith and trust in God, we are given understanding and wisdom by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit guides us so that we are given the wisdom to recognize and discern God’s call on our lives, what we should do and even the outcome of our efforts.
When we know God, and understand what the bible teaches us about him, and we understand God through the lens of the Holy Spirit working with our mind, then we realise how great God is. We begin to understand how God loves and in turn, in our awe, our souls and hearts unite in adoration and are in harmony. Our mind becomes conscious of not only the facts about God, but of the affection and harmony felt in our hearts and souls when we think about God . It is only then with this wisdom and understanding that we can love God with all our mind.
(In Romans 12:2) We are told that the working of the Holy Spirit will renew our minds, and that the renewing of our minds is the on -going work of us being transformed into the likeness and image of God. This Holy Spirit will glorify Christ in giving us, little by little, the wisdom of Christ that he had before the beginning of time and declaring it to us. We move from an intellectual awareness of the presence of God to an emotional embrace of God and begin to love God with all our mind.
What we think governs the way we live, what we say and do. When we reflect on God with the Wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives we can then truly love God with all our mind .