Jesus said it pretty clearly. Of all the things that religious people sometimes debate, on this point there can be no debate. What is the greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). Identifying the greatest command is easy. Following the greatest command is the lifelong challenge. How do we love God in this way? More specifically, have you ever wondered how to love God with all your mind? I believe that loving God with our minds requires that we develop at least three habits: we take time to think about Jesus, we practice thinking like Jesus, and we learn to think through Jesus.  

Our minds have a unique ability that almost no other object has. Our minds can be about other things. We don’t just think. We think about things. We don’t just have beliefs. We have beliefs about things. A guitar can’t be about anything. Neither can a car or a pencil be about anything. A book or a film can be about something but only because those things are communicative products and are intended in some way to reflect the “aboutness” of the mind of their creators. The Christian mind is about Jesus insofar as it is directed towards him. We are not saying that Jesus is all we think about. Surely there are hundreds, thousands of different things that occupy our minds daily. What we are saying is that the Christian mind is drawn into intentional seasons of contemplating Jesus. To love God with our whole mind means we may need to cultivate our inner lives, tuning out the constant buzz of distractions, and direct our minds towards our creator and savior. One of the biggest challenges to the Christian mind is the busyness of our lives that crowds out any moment of quiet reflection. Thinking about Jesus is more than just quiet contemplation, however. Thinking about Jesus is also about reading, studying, and reflecting on the type of content that will help us to know Jesus better. This is another challenge to the Christian mind. Reflect on how much of the content you consume – video, written, or audio. How much of that content directs you to Jesus? How much of that content helps you to think about Jesus? 

The Christian mind also thinks like Jesus. This is at the heart of Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5b). Having this mindset translates into action. Thinking like Jesus leads to acting like Jesus in radical humility and sacrifice (Phil. 2:6-11). To be a disciple of Jesus is to daily learn to think like Jesus. We think like Jesus about the nature of the kingdom, about other people, about sin and righteousness, about hope, and about many other things. The things he delights in; we delight in. The things that grieve him; grieve us. We are aided in developing the mind of Jesus by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us (see 1 Cor. 2:16), but this is not an “all at once” sort of thing. Over time, we come to think like those we imitate. Imitate a friend, a teacher, a parent, or a celebrity for very long and eventually your way of thinking will be a reflection of theirs. In the same way, the longer we walk with Jesus, learning from him and imitating him, we will eventually find ourselves thinking like him. Alan Jacobs offers this wisdom in his book How to Think, “What is needed for the life of thinking is hope: hope of knowing more, understanding more, being more than we currently are.” We could add this note to Jacobs’ observation: What is needed for the life of Christian thinking is the hope of becoming more like Jesus in every way.

Lastly, the Christian mind thinks through Jesus. Following the resurrection, Jesus made clear to his disciples that all authority on heaven and earth had been given to him (Matt. 28:18). One clear implication of that authority is that we go into all the world and make disciples. Another implication is that we see our world and our culture through the lens of that authority. This helps us understand Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Loving God with all our minds means that we are discerning; we shine the light of the truth of Jesus on all things the world pronounces true. 

We shouldn’t be surprised, then, when the Christian mind comes into conflict with the thinking of the world. The Christian mind is a perturbing force in the world. The Christian mind that thinks through Jesus can’t simply leave things well enough alone. Often that perturbation is a creative force in the world as bring Christ-centered truth to places where that truth is unknown. Where there is no love, we bring love. Where there is no hope, we bring hope. Where there is no sign of righteousness, we bring righteousness. There are other times when that perturbing force must be destructive. There are times where arguments and pretentions must be demolished and where false ideas must be subjected to the truth of Jesus. Writing over a century ago, J. Gresham Machen put our task in blunt terms:

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.

Now, this destruction should be done in the spirit of Christ and by the power of Christ. Remember Paul’s words before 2 Corinthians 10:5. We don’t fight the way the world fights or with the weapons the world uses (see 2 Cor. 10:3-4). The Christian mind is noted for its “gentleness and respect” (see 1 Pet. 3:15), but gentleness and respect should not be confused with passivity or disengagement. Thinking through Jesus won’t allow that approach. 

Chad is pictured here with his wife, Tara.

Chad Ragsdale

Chad is a part of our Christ’s Church family and serves as the Academic Dean at Ozark Christian College, one of our Impact partners. He and his wife, Tara, have served for many years teaching classes and leading in our Student Ministry. They have three children, Logan, Adeline, and Ryane.

This piece is an excerpt from his book, The Disciple’s Mind: Thinking Like a Disciple of Jesus, which is available now.

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