When It Comes to Our Minds, God Never Says "Never Mind"

The first and most important commandment, Jesus taught, is to love the Lord our God with our whole being—heart, soul, mind and strength. We intuitively get heart and soul (although the distinction between them may be fuzzy): worship, longing, affection, devotion, prayer, etc. And we generally understand that we love God bodily by taking good care of ourselves and using our bodies to do good work and “good works.” But we may be less clear about how to love God with our minds.

Paul, who was a theological scholar, urges us in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

All of us are immersed in the ideas of our culture, especially you who are students. Unthinkingly, we absorb assumptions and perspectives and world views, which shape us profoundly. We are being conformed. The challenge, then, is to be not unthinking! God expects us to submit our minds to be transformed by his Word/Wisdom as revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus and thought about in the church and mediated by the Holy Spirit. And as we increasingly gain “the mind of Christ,” we then undertake to relate this understanding to all the other ideas we encounter. This will mean critique (discerning what is false) and integration (formulating what is true) and humility (acknowledging what is unclear). We are seeking wisdom.

One obvious application: we must choose well what we take into our minds and what we dwell on. Pornography does us no good. Nor does much of what we watch or read for enjoyment; too often we let ourselves be entertained by what is actually evil. Even more deadly are the flawed world views, such as materialistic naturalism, that erodes our confidence in God’s truth. Instead of polluting our minds, Paul invites us to feed our  minds with whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, to think about  the things that are excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

A less obvious application: we must steward our minds as a means of glorifying God and serving his purposes in the world. As Christians, we are not anti-intellectual. God gave us intellectual capacity as one dimension of imaging him as our creator, and he commands us to use our minds to understand and develop and care for the creation in which he has placed us (See Genesis 1 & 2). You are in college to develop your mind in order to reflect God and his kingdom through your life and work now and over the decades ahead.

What does this mean for you and your fellowship? Three quick thoughts:

  1. Take your studies seriously. Don’t idolize them (a study-holic?) but don’t blow them off either (a slacker?). Rather, study and think as if Jesus were your professor. (See Colossians 3:17, 22-24.)
  2. Uphold the importance of the mind in your fellowship. Spur one another to excel in the main reason, along with your witness, for which God has “called” you all to the campus: to learn!
  3. Cheer on the intellectually gifted. God will call some of you to serve him vocationally as faculty and scholars. Pray for God to draw some from your chapter onto this path!

Finally, check out these helpful InterVarsity Press books (listed in order of scope and depth):

About the Author
Vice President, GFM Campus Ministry

Bobby has been with InterVarsity since 1977 in a variety of area, regional and national roles. He has served as National Director of Graduate and Faculty Ministries since 2009 to encourage and equip graduate students and faculty to follow Christ and become a redeeming influence in universities and professions. He is the author of Living the Christian Year (IVP). He and his wife, Charlene, live in Atlanta, Georgia. They have one grown son, Evan.