“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment.
– Jesus, Matthew 22.37-40
The “all” in that statement is one of the things that makes Jesus so drastically countercultural and challenging (and possibly “irrelevant”), at least for me personally. Just sitting and thinking for a minute about my whole mind and what that means…there is so much going on in there: fear, worry, love, desire, passion, doubt, faith, anger, etc. There are loud, extrovert areas of my mind and areas where I hide resentment, aversion, hurt, and insecurity. To love God with my whole mind is asking me to engage all of these areas, which challenges me to completely rearrange the way I’ve intentionally and unintentionally structured my mind.
How could I ever gather all these areas of my mind together and transform, or allow them to be transformed, into simply love for God?? It’s a remarkably complex implication from such a simple statement, which is one reason why, I suppose, so few try.
One could surmise that God is just cruel for “commanding” this out of us, but that is why the knowledge and deep inner-trust that God is Love is so vital to a spiritual journey. If God is Love and, as one of my heroes Jerry Cook would say, “always predictably good,” then maybe I’m missing a gift in this divine and human challenge.
So, what is the gift?
Having a divided-mind is painful and debilitating. I may have grown comfortable and accustom to that debilitating pain, even to the point that I’ve accepted it as normal. And, as far as I can tell, our culture is designed to help me feel that way.
...for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. For such a person ought not to think or expect that he will receive anything [at all] from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable and restless in all his ways [in everything he thinks, feels, or decides].
– (Jesus’ brother) James 1.6-8
“Unstable and restless in all his ways.” Those are the characteristics of a divided-mind and life. It is the root of anxiety and violence. I can attest to this. I can also attest to being far more than double-minded. I am easily quadruple-minded at most times! Although, I believe what James is saying is there are only ever two minds: one set on Christ and one that is set on many things. That difference takes an individual from loving God with their whole mind to not.
When Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with your whole mind,” he is inviting us to wholeness; or “wholliness” for the sake of using a pun. He’s inviting us to healing in the areas of our minds that have been closed off. He’s inviting us to freedom in areas of our minds where we’ve been locked up. But the real gift is not only wholeness, healing, and freedom. That is where I see many churches and Christians getting hung up. We hyper-focus on wholeness, healing, and freedom, but then ignore their meaning, which is utter union in and absorption into Love. That is the Christian way, the Good News.
That is the gift Jesus offers us by saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your mind,” though it is no small task to receive. Especially when you then add on your whole heart and your whole soul! It is a spiritual, mental, and physical journey and I cannot imagine a more exciting and adventurous way to live my life.