If self-proclaimed “Christians” at large were polled, or questioned, I believe it would be shocking how little people who claim to be followers of Jesus really know. I don’t mean they are unfamiliar with the Bible, or that they don’t have a good preacher on Sunday, or that the Christian books and articles they read are untrue. I’m inclined to believe that most regular church members, if challenged, would be unable to defend what they believe about God or Jesus. Many people who have very strong opinions, and loudly proclaim their pet doctrines, don’t know “why” they believe what they believe.
It is interesting that when believers are told in the Bible how they should love God, one of the ways is with their “minds” (Luke 10:27). What we think about and meditate upon shapes who we are and exposes who we are, ” for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” Luke 6:45b. Another way of saying this is, only what we have put into our minds, and embraced as true, is what we are going to speak. Bible writers give various warnings about how we use our words. In the end, our wonderful ability to communicate thoughts, ideas, precepts, warnings, blessings, etc. are an open window to our inner most being.
The reason we are like we are is because many of us, (I’m referencing believers…) are not operating at full capacity mentally. Here’s what I mean. In Romans 1 Paul explained that God is self revealed in His creation to the degree that the person who observes the world about him, those created things, is not neutral. Once revelation has been received a choice must be made. Either a person will embrace the One who made those magnificent things, based on his or her admittedly limited knowledge, or reject that same revelation and the Creator.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:19-21)
Those who reject what they know about God are “without excuse” and “they became futile in their thinking”…..”and their foolish hearts were darkened”. That’s quite an indictment!
Those of us who truly belong to Christ are called to “think” differently than before. How can we do that?
- Different thinking. Philippians 4:8 “8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” We must with purpose learn to think differently. There is another passage that encourages us to us care in our thinking. “and take every thought captive to obey Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:5. So we are in control of what we think about and are responsible to think they way we should.
- A Renewed mind. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We are not left alone to our futile thinking but as we take charge of our thinking our minds are being changed. Our minds, and our hearts, the seat of our emotions and where we make decisions is very complex and the best minds do not fully appreciate the beauty of God’s work seen in our ability to think and reason. But, in our store-house of thoughts there are only two broad categories of information stored there. Truth and Lies. The more we put in God’s truth, and embrace it by faith, the more our minds will be renewed and our thinking will mature so that we can distinguished what “is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”.
Popular Christian preacher and apologist Ravi Zacharias has this tag-line for his syndicated radio program, “Let My People Think”. I love that! I fear that critical thinking is fast becoming a lost art. Christians must be thinkers to be what God wants them to be. Right thinkers become right people who know the will of God.
Finally, Peter admonished his readers in 1 Peter 3:15, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
It is good to know what you believe about God. It is even better to know Why you believe it. Let’s do some thinking and love God with our minds.
Royce, thanks very much for your writings. I always profit by your work.