Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Meditation: Is Intellect Over-rated?

Yesterday we baptized four people at our church. The youngest was a four year-old little boy. We use a 150-gallon watering trough purchased from a tractor supply store: everyone leaves their seats and gathers around the sacred  tub, cameras flashing, cheering and laughing.
In the back of my head came a nagging question: does this child really understand what he’s doing? Then came the gentle voice of the Spirit asking me, “Do you really understand what he’s doing?” No one plays gotcha quite like the Holy Ghost.
This week’s meditation sings in praise of our limited capacity to understand. I've discovered that an omniscient God is not impressed by the size of our intellect. He does not want us to live in the darkness of ignorance, yet he knows it will take eternity for us to discover the fullness of his love. Who wants a gospel you can understand in ninety seconds? I hope to still marvel at the depths and riches of Christ’s wisdom when I reach ninety years.
Life in Christ begins with belief. In the process of coming to Jesus how many of us understood exactly what we signed up for? Becoming a Christian is a volitional act--it begins in the will. The intellect trails behind. Over the years our mind discovers, organizes, inquires, wonders and worships. It’s true: we should love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, but we need to remember that the command is love.
Here are seven questions for the coming week as we meditate on the difference between mind and faith:
  • How much must we know before we believe? Not only in terms of being born again, but in every aspect of our life with God?
  • Is it possible to know the right answers and remain separated from Jesus?
  • Does intellect guarantee purity of heart before God?
  • Would the Father actually hide things from our understanding?
  • In the gospels, what caused Jesus to marvel: trust or intelligence?
  • What role does experience play in true understanding?
  • If the great commandment identifies heart, soul, strength and mind, which area have I elevated and which area have I neglected?
This week, let’s receive the prayer Paul prayed for his church in Ephesus:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Ephesians 1: 17-18)


  1. In the earliest evidence we have regarding church chatechesis and initiation, instruction in the community's way of life abounds. What we now call "theology" (the quest for intellectual understanding) is virtually absent.

    Thank you for this insightful post; a reminder of what is most important.

  2. It is humbling to think of why I first followed Jesus and why I continue to follow him today. Great post that gets to the heart of the matter.

  3. Recently I heard that often in the Bible when things are listed, the first in the list is most important. In Mark 12:30, Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Could that mean that having a love for God with our hearts is first priority, and our mind, third?

  4. The real germ for this post was a mental picture I had once while praying: I imagined I was around the throne of God, along with the "10,000 times 10,000" worshiping the Lamb. I looked to my left and my right, discovering illiterate farmers from the 8th and 9th century, every bit as much absorbed in worship as I was.

    Jesse: I appreciate your perspective on the church fathers.
    Ed: the more we follow, the more deeply we will understand, that's for sure.
    Adrienne: I think in the oral society of the 1st century, the items first and last in a list occupied the prominent positions, because the hearer was most likely to remember the first and last. I don't think 1st-century writers tried to prioritize in lists unless they specifically say so (2 Peter 1)
    Peace to All!

  5. It is humbling to think of why I first followed Jesus and why I continue to follow him today. Great post that gets to the heart of the matter.