Monday, December 01, 2008

Heart | Soul | Mind | Strength

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." ~ Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27


That's Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 ... and adding a few words. You won't find "and with all your mind" in Moses' revelation of God's law for Israel.

But I do not believe He intended to add it to the exclusion of the other three.

That's where much of Christianity has majored - with all our minds - to the exaltation of reason and logic above the love of the heart which is at the core of the instruction's meaning and intent.

At the other end of the extreme, much of Christianity has majored in the love of the heart, to the exclusion of reason and logic altogether. So these two emphases conflict, without even enough common ground to stand upon while bickering about which is more God-like.

Far too little of Christianity has even minored in loving the Lord our God with all our strength ... doing with our might what our hands find to do, as an old gospel song phrases it.

And that leaves the world to judge by our inaction how little of Christianity, and to what pathetic degree, has sold its "self" to love the Lord our God with all our souls.

Jesus didn't seem to be stating this as a multiple-choice question: "Heart | Soul | Mind | Strength - Choose One!"

None of them is optional. All four dimensions are needed.

But - as I have maintained elsewhere in some thoughts about a comprehensive hermeneutic - our preoccupation as Christians with either heart or mind has been shortsighted at the very least: "If we exclude emotional approaches, we become heartless. If we exclude logical approaches, we become brainless."

I would now like to add what I didn't perceive before: "If we exclude action, we become purposeless. If we exclude selflessness, we become soulless."

One-dimensional Christianity has left us conflicted, unfulfilled and largely impotent.

God created us to be four-dimensional creatures: to aspire to the height of intelligence and the full breadth of affection to the depth of our souls and then to carry out that love world-wide in time-consuming, self-consuming activity.

That was the prayer of Paul for the saints at Ephesus:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how WIDE and LONG and HIGH and DEEP is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. ~ Ephesians 3:14-20


The four ways all those dimensions point is outward from the Center of the universe.

To see them, we need look no farther than the cross.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts...they remind me of a sermon by Jim Woodroof back in the mid-70's when he talked about the balance between legalism and love - both are necessary, but not in the extreme. Speaking the TRUTH in love, is a premier quality of the true Christ lover.

Chase Warren said...

Interesting post, I would have to agree with you on the sad matter Christians seem to want to "pick one" but that is not what Christ said, as you mentioned.

mmlace said...

Good post, Keith. I probably struggle most with the "action" dimension--finding something to do for Him and just doing it. But I'm working on it.

Royce Ogle said...

I completely agree with your "whole man" doctrine. After all, wasn't Jesus the first wholistic healer? Most of those who initially came to him came with some physical need only to have "everthing" healed, even their souls.

So, not only should our live of devotion to Christ reflect this "whole man" idea but our ministry to others should be to the whole person as well.

His peace,
Royce

Keith Brenton said...

Post Script: A word for "think" is used about 125 times in scripture.

A word for "love" is used about 700 times in scripture.

Maybe irrelevant.

Maybe not.

mmlace said...

Wow. I think that's very relevant.

Anonymous said...

"One-dimensional Christianity has left us conflicted, unfulfilled and largely impotent."

I surfed in and you have given me my next series of lessons! Actually saw your response to another blogger and followed the link. Thanks for the great lead... it in some ways reflects one of my favorite bumper stickers, "More walk, less talk"

Jimbo

mmlace said...

Hey, you decided to go multi-colored on this post! Interesting.

Keith Brenton said...

Glad to be of even minimal help, Jimbo!

Yeah - I thought I was getting a little monoton-ous.