Loving God with All Your Mind
In Mark 12:28-34 an educated man—a teacher of the law—tests Jesus in a legal matter: What’s the most important commandment? Jesus says there is one command with two parts: love God and your neighbour as yourself. Significantly, however, Jesus alters the Deuteronomic text (6:4), which called for loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. To that combination, Jesus adds loving God with all your mind.
A Jewish law professor would have known this passage well, and pious Jews would have recited it twice a day. The change Jesus makes, suggested theologian Neal Plantinga, is like changing the familiar bedtime prayer to say: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my brain to keep.” People would certainly have noticed.
Why the change? I think that Jesus is insisting on a complete all-of-life passion for God and his kingdom. He’s being asked a question by a smart man, so he intentionally includes the mind in the call to surrender one’s life to God. There are no loopholes around the pervasiveness of the love command.
I once asked a Christian economics student what a kingdom-of-God perspective would imply regarding risk and fair wages, and he replied with the phrase, “Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.” This student assumed that the Christian mind relates to prayer, worship, and churches, but for the rest of life—economics, politics, and so on—he could just follow the dominant culture of the day.
May it not be so with us. There is not one sentence of any university curriculum, no theory or method, and no discipline or profession to which the call to love God with all our mind does not apply. We cannot love God with all our soul and live with a secular mind. This love, especially seen in the light of the “wondrous cross,” demands our soul, our life, our all.