Love With All Your Mind
Apply Your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
A few years ago theology never even crossed my mind, and I bought a lot of Christian books based on cover and not on content. And when reading them I only managed to finish the biographies; I had a short attention span and little perseverance when it came to non-fiction. (Nor did I have any appreciation for them, thinking at the time that I knew a lot!)
I rated sermons on how well they were delivered or whether the application at the end was challenging enough. And the way I read stories for years involved skipping over everything bar the parts with dialogue. It made for some confusing narratives, to be honest, and re-reading the Narnia books the second time around revealed some amazing new parts I could not remember in the slightest from the previous reading!
Now you’ll find that most (hopefully all) Christians agree it is important to read your Bible. You’ll also find that a lot of Christians believe it’s important to go further afield and read theological books as well. I’m in a camp that believes that we should be reading even more than that.
My mind goes back to a story about Jim Elliot, a missionary killed by the tribesmen in Ecuador he was reaching out to. While studying in university he ate healthily in accordance with his ideas ‘about preserving a rugged body for missionary work in the future’ (Shadow of the Almighty, 1958, p. 39), and took up wrestling, believing that ‘participation in some sport contributed to his training as a soldier in Jesus Christ’ (p. 45). While wrestling wasn’t a ‘Christian’ endeavour, the reasoning behind it was for Christ’s glory – if not in the present, then in the future.
I believe there should be a similar motivation in what we read – we should learn what this world believes, and it should send us back to the Bible to confirm and reaffirm our own beliefs.
We should learn about effective communication and marketing, so that our churches can break through and capture the attention of an advertising-saturated audience.
We should learn about design and aesthetics, so our creations will reflect the beauty of our Creator and raise people’s eyes heavenward.
We should learn business and finance management so that we can be wise stewards of our time and money.
We should learn new languages to communicate the truth more clearly to others and grow in our awareness of cultures other than our own.
But in all this, it is important to remember Paul’s warning that ‘knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.’ (1 Cor 8:1-3).
If you so wish!
The Art of Non-Conformity – Hints, life-hacks, tips, inspiration.
The Well-Read Christian – Why saints should read.
Between Two Worlds – Collection of mostly-Christian blog posts, articles, book reviews, videos and interviews.
Are You Easily Edified? – Challenging post from the Rebelution blog.