Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Loving God with all of our Minds

Do we need evidence in order to believe? Perhaps not initially! However, Paul admonished the church to grow into mature thinking (1 Cor. 14:20). Peter claimed that we had to be able to provides reasons for the hope that we have in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). Jude wrote that we have a responsibility to defend the faith (Jude 3). While our personal testimony is a great place to begin, a defense requires far more than this.

If we are going to live a confident and vibrant Christian life, we too need to mobilize our God –given minds in service of our God-given Gospel. John the Baptist, arguably Israel’s greatest prophet, needed evidence about Jesus after he had been thrown into prison.

He therefore sent his disciples to Jesus to ascertain whether or not He was the promised Messiah. Instead of sending John’s disciples back to John with the message, “Just tell John to believe!” Jesus told them to relate the evidence of the miracles they had seen to John (Mat. 11).

John needed the evidence to revive his faith even though He was the one who had insisted that Jesus is the Messiah:

·        "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! "This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” (John 1:29-31)

Jesus’ disciples also needed evidence after the crucifixion, and Jesus provided it:

·        To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

However, we tend to associate piety with an unwillingness to pursue and evaluate the evidence. Atheist turned Christian, J. Warner Wallace, contradicts this errant belief:

·        Sadly, I also find most Christians believe what they believe without assessing the evidence. In fact, I often have to make a case for case making! Many of my Christian brothers and sisters are quick to express appreciation for my visit, but are also eager to tell me they didn’t need any evidence in the first place. Some have been Christians all their lives, many believe the Holy Spirit has spoken to them, and others have simply become comfortable in the Christian community. All of these dear brothers and sisters have faithfully trusted Jesus for their salvation, but most are unable to defend what they believe (or how they came to their belief) when approached by aggressive skeptics.

·        Many Christians believe true faith is independent of evidence. Who needs faith if we have enough evidence to make the case? But Jesus seemed to hold evidence in high regard. He repeatedly offered evidence of His miracles to verify His identity, and He told His observers this evidence was sufficient (see John 5:36, John 10:37-38, and John 14:11).

We are required to love God with all of our minds:

  • And He [Jesus] said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'” (Matthew 22:37)

When we reject this command, we reject God’s grace and calling. We also condemn ourselves to mediocre, defensive Christian lives.

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