Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Worship the Lord...with your MIND!

I grew up in churches that had all the answers. Heaven was up, hell was down, and we knew who was going in which direction. God created the world in six days - one hundred and forty-four hours. The Red Sea parted just like in the movie...

We reduced the mystery of the Unknowable God to Four Spiritual Laws that would fit on a post card and still leave room for "The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it." We didn't have room for questions, because we were certain of everything.

That’s from a wonderful Day1 sermon by The Rev. Dr. Brett Younger. He’s an associate professor of preaching at the McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta. It’s entitled Loving God with All Your Mind. An Episcopalian is recommending a Baptist’s preaching! It’s food for THOUGHT and something to pray about...

The first and greatest commandment:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Your words, Jesus. That same text in Deuteronomy specifies heart, soul and strength. You call us to engage the mind as well. So, why should we check our brains at the church door?

Over 200 years ago John Wesley suggested that reason should accompany our experience of Scripture. So, why would we park our IQ in the narthex?

I believe with all my heart and soul. Indeed, I feel your presence. And my mind is engaged. It is not a threat to faith.

The Bible frames your relationship with humanity. It’s packed with praise, admonition and teaching. And it contains gray areas, contradictions and paradox - to make us think!

Lord Christ, I’ve never been particularly good at memorizing Scripture, but I certainly enjoy thinking about it. I’m especially drawn to passages that elude my comprehension, the sections subject to interpretation. That’s why your Word is fresh every day, year after year.

Holy Spirit, fill our church with cerebral worship. Transform doubters to seekers, seekers to students and students to we worship with heart, soul, strength and mind. Amen.

~ ~ ~ ~

Did you know that the title most often given to Jesus in the New Testament is not "Master" or "Lord," as you might expect, but "Teacher"? On a number of occasions, we read that the crowds were astonished, not by miracles, but by his teaching. When Jesus called disciples, he called them to be learners. The Greek word mathates, usually translated disciples, could just as easily be rendered students.

If we don't include our minds in our love for God, we end up worshipping simple ideas about God rather than humbling ourselves before the Infinite. When we think hard, we begin to realize the ways in which we might be wrong. We learn to factor in a lot of uncertainty. We ask harder questions.

The best teachers help us understand that God calls us to learn, because learning is one of the ways we find our way to the most meaningful life.
(The Rev. Dr. Brett Younger on Day1)