Jonathan's Perspective  

Feb 7

'Love God with All Your Mind'

Love God with All Your Mind  (Warning: Thinking cap required to read this blog.)

'See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy...  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.' (Col 2:8-10)

Life pulls at us from many different angles.  It is hard to juggle our responsibilities as parents, children, workers, and neighbors.  However, it is especially hard when our minds stray from the firm foundation of Christ in our lives.  When we use the wrong frame of thinking, the results can be disastrous.  This is nothing new; it has been the problem of humanity throughout time.  That is why Paul warns about 'hollow and deceptive philosophy' and guides us to focus on Jesus, since it is 'in Christ [that we] have been brought to fullness.'  Our thinking is challenged when we come to a fork in the road: one way of thinking will undermine our life in God, the other way of thinking will bring us into the fullness of life in God.  We must choose.

A couple 'hollow and deceptive philosophies' that existed during the time of Paul's writing, as well as in our own time, are materialism and relativism.  Anaxagoras (500 - 428 BC) and Epicurus (341 - 270 BC) were early materialists.  Herodotus (484 - 425 BC) and Protagoras (486 - 411 BC) were early relativists.  There is nothing new under the sun, but we must recognize these philosophies' draw, shortcomings, and impact so that we aren't taken captive to ideas that are counter to God's design for the use of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

First, materialism has a nugget of truth.  It is easy to measure the things that our six senses can examine and repeat in a controlled environment.  However, its logic is deceptive: if we cannot measure something then it must not exist. This philosophy is hollow because it can only describe the natural world, but has no way of deciding what ought to be, what we should strive for.  It even undermines our sense of free will, and thus any imperative to choose one thing as better than another.  Materialism is hollow because it gives no sense of meaning, purpose, and goal for humanity and individuals.

Another 'hollow and deceptive philosophy' is relativism.  The nugget of truth it contains is that everyone can only speak out of their own experience and knowledge, and; therefore, everyone's opinion is based on partial knowledge.  It is deceptive in that it assumes that we cannot connect our subjective, partial knowledge with Truth.  Relativists think that all systems of thought and ethics are equally valid as long as they are coherent.  The deception here is that there is a difference between coherence and goodness.  A philosophical or ethical system can be exquisitely coherent and exquisitely bad at the same time.  We need systems of thought that are coherent, connect to the objective world, and guide us towards goodness.

There is so much more to be said about Materialism and Relativism;  I hope this brief overview whets your appetite to apply your mind to understanding a profoundly Christian way of understanding and being in the world.  Paul tells us that the first principle to stake our thinking on is that, 'in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form...'(Col 2:9)  You want to be guided into Truth and Wisdom?  Focus your mind on who Jesus is and what He taught.  Do you want direction and discernment to live a good and abundant life?  Focus your mind on Jesus who brings us into fullness of life in God. (Col 2:10)  And, if you struggle with understanding and responding to these philosophies which undermine your walk with Christ, there are resources.  Two good books are The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.  Also, you can come talk with me.  God has given us each other to sharpen our minds and give each other courage to live for Christ.

Seeking Life that is Truly Life (1 Tim 6:19),

Jonathan

 

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