Sharing the mind of Christ means submitting our minds to the Father and having minds characterized by humility and peace.
“Love the Lord your God with your mind.”
How do you love anyone with your mind, much less the Lord your God? What does it look like? Does it mean thinking good thoughts about the one you love? Does it mean using your mind in a certain way? Does it mean directing all your mental energies toward God, who is, in some mysterious way, the proper end of all thought?
Just a few small questions. But I’ll start with initial impressions, the ways I’ve interpreted these verses in the past. When I hear the command to “love the Lord with my mind,” I translate it in a couple of ways. First, loving the Lord with my mind could mean "learning true things about him." That is then paired with the biblical call for our minds to be renewed. A renewed mind, says Paul in Romans, is how one comes to know what is good and acceptable and perfect. It’s the means by which you can order your life around God’s will. (As a quick aside, the initial verses in Romans 12 read like a mini-commentary on the greatest commandment. But maybe more on that later).
Learning true things is important. The truth, Jesus tells us, sets us free. So when our minds are connected to the truth, we're not only renewed; we can be set free. By means of our minds (though not exclusively), the Spirit can renew us, and make us free. With renewed, free minds, we can be formed into people who desire and love the truth. Maybe loving the Lord with our minds means coming to love the Truth as he is.
A second way I tend to interpret the command is by considering the connection between my mind and my faith. That is, by remembering that my mind “fills out” my faith via my intellectual capacities. Put in the classic way, my "faith seeks understanding" through my mind. I like this idea because it reminds me that the Christian faith is robust enough, deep enough, and wide enough to accommodate any and all studious pursuits. Faith is never at odds with knowledge, so we can love the Lord with our mind when we use it to stretch our faith out, uniting it with new things we learn.
These two ways of thinking about the command fit well. We love the Lord when we submit ourselves to his transforming, sanctifying work by the renewing of our minds. We also love the Lord when we stretch and deepen our faith through rigorous study, questioning, and conversation.
But I want to go deeper by thinking about the commandment through the way of Christ. Following the initial premise of this series, loving the Lord with our minds means that our minds must be like Christ's mind, who loves his Father perfectly. Christ, who fulfills all commands, loves the Lord with his mind. As his disciples, our minds should look like his: directed toward our Father.
Now, in order to be like Christ with our minds, following in his way, we need to know what Christ's mind is like. We must have access to it in some mysterious way. And that is precisely what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians. I’ll write a bit about this passage, so it merits quoting it in full:
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
“We have the mind of Christ.” That’s a present, active claim. Not a future promise yet to be fulfilled. It's a plain, straightforward description of reality: those in Christ have his mind.
But there's more in this passage. Paul addresses the fracturing and quarreling Corinthian church by reminding them of the simple object of the Apostle’s preaching: Christ and Christ crucified. Right away, Paul is uniting the activity of his mind with Christ; Paul claims to “know nothing” among the Corinthians other than Christ. In the next breath, Paul says that this Christ-knowledge was united with the Spirit, so that the faith of the Corinthians would rest in the power of God and His Spirit. It’s a knowledge that’s secured by the Spirit, and Paul says it’s distinct from human wisdom.
But wisdom isn’t a category that Paul rejects. Not at all. He takes wisdom and unites it also to God’s Spirit, calling it mysterious and hidden. Yet when the Spirit came, the secret was out, the hidden made known. For Paul, knowledge and wisdom are intimately connected to God’s Spirit, who knows all things--even the deepest thoughts of the Trinity.
Here’s where the passage picks up speed. Paul teaches that we have received the same Spirit that searches God and knows his deepest thoughts. It’s the Spirit that helps us understand “the things freely given by God.”
This leads Paul to the sudden, startling conclusion that God’s Spirit who knows the full store of God’s mind is the same Spirit that unites us with Christ. And this union extends even to our minds. The Spirit, that person of the Trinity who knows all the deep things of God, has been shared with us, uniting us with Christ’s mind. That’s a serious theological implication, that to share the Spirit of Christ is to have union with Him, even mentally.
But what else can we gather from Scripture about how Christ used his mind to love his Father? Where else can we look to see what using one's mind in service to love looks like? How about this gem from Philippians:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Here, Paul says we are to “have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” We’re to have Christ’s mind, which is not associated with pride or self-interest. No, Paul understands the mind of Christ to be one that “does nothing from rivalry or conceit” but acts in humility, looking to the interests of others. The mind of Christ is not known for its intellectual milestones, but by its humility.
Later in Philippians, Paul tells us that the peace of God rules our hearts and our minds. We are to be guarded by peace. And this makes sense: any place where the Spirit of God is is a place to see his fruit, even in our minds. If we have the mind of Christ by the Spirit, then surely our minds bear the same Spirit’s fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Christ’s mind is humble, operating without rivalry or conceit. Christ’s mind is ruled by peace, and he shares this peace with us by His Spirit. He is neither troubled by uncertainty, nor troubled by his assumed limitations. He is ruled by peace, perfectly loving and trusting the Father with his mind by practicing mental humility.
When I put it all together like this, I start to see things differently. To love the Lord with my mind is, simply, to have the mind of Christ who loves the Father perfectly. And by the Spirit, we've been given this mind. We can love God with our minds, just as Jesus did and does.
When we think about loving the Lord with our minds, there are lots of places we could go. We could think about cultivating a love for the truth, or using our minds to fill out our faith. What's more, we should consider how Christ exercises submission to his Father with his mind. We could think about how Christ's mind is ruled by peace because of his love for his Father. And we can think about the mental humility of Christ, who perfectly trusts his Father's will.