Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spirituality Engaging The Heart & Mind

A Devotion By Dan Guinn

There is some confusion in our day about spirituality and reason. In our day there is a heavy emphasis on heart-felt spirituality, and while this is a good thing, there is unfortunately often a de-emphasis on the “mind-felt” aspect of our spirituality. You might even question yourself, as to what role the mind even has in our spirituality, as there are some schools of thought that actually teach that mental pursuits and faith are not compatible.

So what role does the mind have to do with our faith?

This is a question that we ought to think about. Notice I said think? We’ll have to think about how to process and discern if these things are spiritual truth. We’ll have to use our mind for spiritual purposes. So just how does that work? To answer this question we will have to hear what God’s word says about the mind.

The Mind is Active In Our Relationship With Christ:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Matthew 11:29

The Mind is Active In Repentance With The Heart (Seat of Emotions):

1 Kings 8:48 "if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart..."

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

~ 2 Cor. 10:5, KJV

“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” ~ 2 Cor. 10:5, ESV

How We Display Love For God

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." - Matthew 22:37

Jesus emphasizes the whole being, un-separated!

The Mind is to be Set on God:

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. " - Isaiah 26:3

"Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God ” - 1 Chron 22:19 a, b

Our Mind Set on God Corporately (As The Church):

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” Phil 1:27

Note this is not an arrogant use of the mind, but a use of the mind that is a demonstration of love!

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus...” - Phil 2:1-5

If Our Mind is Not Set:

"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." Rom 8:7

"But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28

Peace or Death (Covenant Blessing or Curse):

"For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Rom 8:6

"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." Rom 12:2

God Knows the Mind of the Spirit:
Also, we need to understand that there is something “mental” going on with the Trinity!

“And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Rom 8:27

Isn't this strange? What a strange way to talk about God and the spirit working. What this verse is saying is that God knows what the Spirit is thinking and the Spirit is praying for the saints because He knows the will of God (what the Father is thinking, and what His wishes are).

Let's read on, because these next statements are connected.

So Why Is God Doing This?:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28

God is thinking about us! He is working His good through us for our ultimate good.

Now we heard about God and the Spirit in the previous passage. But did you notice there is a no mention of the last person of the Trinity yet? Well he's next.

Conformed to the Image of His Son:

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Rom 8:29-30:

The real emphasis of the passage here is on Christ, that God planned for us "to be conformed to the image of his Son." It is by a transformation in our mind and our heart that we are being re-created into Christ likeness! With this we can also see that the entire trinity is interacting around, in and through us. God is mindful of us in every way. Moreover, this is exactly as Christ promised!

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-15

Removing Spiritual Dualism
We must remember that God uses both natural and super-natural means to do His work. We might equate the heart-felt experience that we feel as Christians to the mystical concept of the “moving of the Holy Spirit,” which is indeed super-natural. Yet likewise in the natural observance of natural things, such as a simple flower growing, there is a natural testimony of the spiritual things of God. God has given us a mind to understand both of these concepts.

Schaeffer taught something very important that might be helpful to this discussion. When describing spirituality once he put forth his hand and said:

"True Spirituality is right here!" ~ Schaeffer.

What Schaeffer meant by this is that if we truly believe scripture and it’s representation of spirituality, the concepts of spirituality are not some far-removed principles, but rather they make sense in real life. God is right here, we can have substantial understanding!

The reality of our faith happens in time and space. At an appointed time, Christ came, at a certain time he died, in history. He did these things in real time. At a certain point in time He worked in your heart and mind and convinced you of himself! Our spirituality is not some aloof mystical concept that has nothing to do with our lives. Unlike all of the other religions of the world, Christianity teaches a faith that makes sense of reality.

Now, if we hope to speak to others of our faith we cannot separate the role of the mind from our spirituality as scripture teaches us to train our minds.

“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” 1 Peter 3:15

In order to do this we are required to think, to set our hearts as well as our minds on the things of God, to learn His ways. True, it is not the mind alone, as knowledge for knowledge sake gets us nowhere. However, the mind set on the things of God ought to go beyond knowledge to get wisdom and understanding. Consider the words of Christ.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16