It was a beautiful autumn Saturday when I unpacked my last box. I had just moved to UK from Singapore, and was thrilled to start my postgraduate studies and to continue campus ministry as I had done as an undergraduate.
However, as I settled into my new home and met my housemates, I quickly realized that as a committed evangelical Christian, I was in the minority. While I believed God was my source for everything, most of my housemates did not see the need for God as they deemed themselves “self-made successes”.
This made me question—why did I believe what I believed? Was I going to church because it was the “right” thing to do, for a cathartic worship experience, and for encouragement to get me through the week? I realized that beyond loving God with my heart (my passion), soul (my life) and strength (my service), I also had to love God with my mind—to know my faith and why I believed.
This got me started on a quest to love God with my mind. Along the way, I came up with four ways which have proved helpful:
M—Make Time to Know God
I arrived in the UK feeling confident as a witness for Christ. But as I tried to stand up to any Jesus-related questions thrown my way, I humbly realized I had accepted God and the Bible based on others’ faiths. Seeing the importance of knowing God for myself, I created a scared space in my life to read His Word and ask honest questions about it.
Through such times with the Lord, I began to know His redemptive father heart for all and to trust that—more than I ever could—He loved my housemates and wanted them to receive Him. I was reminded that only He could bring about the growth of the seed of the gospel sown into their lives (1 Corinthians 3:6), which came in His perfect timing and ways higher than my own (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Having this sacred space greatly benefited me as I began to know God for myself–to know Him whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12) so that when questioned about Him, I would be prepared to answer.
This sacred space can look different for each of us. For me, as an audiovisual learner, I prefer to listen to the audio Bible on my daily morning commute, and pray between appointments. What is your sacred space with God? Consider marking it in your calendar so you won’t miss out moments to meet with God regularly.
I—Investigate Truth Claims
As I interacted more with my non-Christian friends, I realized how ill-prepared I was to answer some important questions. Why would someone believe in God when life looks good? Why was living a homosexual lifestyle sinful, and is it possible to surrender such desires?
Loving God with my mind meant I could not dismiss these questions. Such topics needed clarity, but before I dove into them, I needed to understand truth in order to detect what was false. Through a journey of reading, attending talks, and conversing on such topics, I learned a term called “post-truth,” where one accepts or rejects truth according to one’s own preference.
I learned that making truth subjective—as so many are tempted to do when faced with tough questions—emptied truth of its very definition.
During my quest to learn truth, I began to understand Paul’s prayer in Philippians: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:9-10, emphasis added).
Knowledge. Insight. Discernment. Knowing Biblical truth became even more important when opportunities arose to share it—notably when America legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, and during a terrorist attack in 2016 that shook the UK.
Love compels us to share the truth, so let’s be encouraged to learn the truth.
N—Never Walk Alone
I am thankful for my prayer partner in the UK—a Canadian-Cantonese girl with a beautiful smile and love for the Lord. Our conversations brought clarity for me on tough issues. And though we did not have all the answers, we encouraged each other to learn God’s perspective on issues, and to communicate such truths coherently and lovingly.
For these reasons, I would encourage every Christian to approach and walk with someone like-minded in a desire to grow in Christ. As “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10), such accountability and journeying together in the faith can encourage us toward loving God with our minds.
It was an arduous and lonely journey praying for my non-Christian friends and learning how to address their questions. However, this journey became so much more bearable when I shared my burdens with my Christian friends and they prayed for us.
D—Dig into Credible Resources
Evangelist John Sung was known to read only the Bible and newspaper every day. He knew the dual importance of knowing Scripture and its relevance in his cultural and spiritual climate.
Similarly, I encourage us to be well-informed, critical-thinking Christians who know our Bibles and how it relates to current issues. We can do so by wisely selecting resources that: (a) clarify Scripture with Scripture, (b) are in-line with Scripture and (c) reliably inform us of our times today—with truth, objectivity, and credibility (see the list below for some examples). Personally, I found it helpful to install reliable news apps on my phone and ensure I only read books and articles from credible authors, including those from varying perspectives.
This has humbled me to adopt a more teachable attitude. Once, a friend asked why Christians were advised to marry only other Christians. Instead of attempting to “win” the argument, I chose to ask for her thoughts on it. As it turns out, she had a personal story and feelings of resentment which led to her believing the Bible was “narrow-minded” on the issue. And after acknowledging her feelings of hurt and confusion, I was able to eventually win the right to share with her the Bible’s perspective on the issue, which brought her clarity.
Keeping abreast of what is credible and current for a number of issues has helped me to be better informed and equipped to participate meaningfully in faith and cultural dialogues—to listen to the questioner behind the question, and to seek common ground instead of “winning” an argument. From there, I can build bridges and eventually win the right to speak into another’s life.
I am thankful to God for bringing me on this journey of growth and helping me to come to know my faith, the person I put my faith in, and how my faith fits in with the times. Though we live in uncertain times, we can take heart that the truths in Scripture are unchanging. Because of that, we can put our hope in these truths, for: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8).
Loving God with our minds is a lifelong journey involving focus, discipline, ownership, and accountability. Above all, it is a meaningful journey with the eternal benefits of knowing God more and more—a joyous journey indeed!
Recommended Resources for Loving the Lord with all our Minds:
- The Bible—our foremost resource with no substitute for it!
- For understanding the entire Bible:
- Unlocking the Bible, by David Pawson.
- God’s Big Picture, by Vaughan Roberts.
- “The Bible Project,” Bible themes and Bible book overview infographic videos, co-founded by Tim Mackie.
- Quest Study Bible: The Question and Answer Bible, a Bible published by Zondervan and Christianity Today featuring questions and answers as you read through the Bible.
- On the reliability of the Bible:
- More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.
- Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell.
- The Case for Christ book series, by Lee Strobel.
- For knowing the times and culture of today:
- On truth and morality: The Reason for God, a book by Timothy Keller. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, a book by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.
- On suffering: Why Suffering?, a book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale. What Good is God?, by Philip Yancey.
- On post-truth: Saving Truth: Finding Meaning and Clarity in a Post-Truth World, by Abdu Murray. True for You but Not for Me, by Paul Copan.
- On sexuality: Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, by Michael L. Brown.
- On the sanctity of life: The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture, by Scott Klusendorf.
- On science and religion: Can Science Explain Everything?, by John Lennox.
- On the prosperity gospel: “Six Keys to Detecting the Prosperity Gospel,” podcast by John Piper (Desiring God Ministries).
- On hyper-grace: Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, by Michael L. Brown
- On doubts within the Christian faith:
- Why People Stop Believing, by Paul Chamberlain
- Disappointment with God, by Philip Yancey