Mark Meynell, Senior Associate Minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London has written an article on Developing a Christian Mind at University which is well worth a read, here’s a little snippet:
A large proportion of Christians can date their conversions to their student time. But conversely, a significant proportion of those with inherited faith lose it as students. We will probably know people in both groups.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, we find the first summary of God’s Law:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Do you remember what Jesus does with it?
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark12:28-30)
Interesting, isn’t it?
If we find Jesus’ addition of ‘with all your mind’ odd, it probably means that we don’t really understand love. If we assume it is just feelings & emotions, the mind will have little to do with it. But even at a human level, if love is the highest honour we can give someone, whereby we are willing to share everything with them, then of course the mind will be involved. We will want to be interested in them, and in their lives. It will involve curiosity and compassion, understanding and insight. It might also involve defending their reputation when it seems damaged or under threat, which again will involve the mind. So for example, you would actually be concerned about my marriage if I claimed to love Rachel, while being not the slightest bit interested in her childhood in Africa or her time as a midwife in East London.
Why should there be a difference with God? He wants us to love him with everything – including our minds, whoever we are.
When he says ‘all your’ mind, He is applying this claim in a very personal way. Not everyone has the same ability. Someone who is physically handicapped may not have the same physical ‘strength’ that a star athlete does. That does not matter. Whether it means serving God from a hospital bed or from an Olympic pavilion, both are called to love God with all of their strength. In the same way, ‘all of your mind’ encompasses a wide range of talents and abilities. Some minds are gifted in the sciences; some in the arts. Some minds are oriented to academia and higher education. Some are not. No one set of talents is better than any other. The point is, God demands all that we can do and all that we can think.7
To love God involves many things – it will involve enjoying the privilege of getting to know him, it will involve gratitude, praise and adoration, obedience – but the bottom line must always be at least a desire to KNOW ABOUT HIM & his world. That is why the Bible has lot to say about God, to inform us of what we could not otherwise know.
But that is not the only essential ingredient to loving God with our minds. We should also seek to defend his work and reputation.
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. (2 Cor 10:5)
So this gives us 2 major aims as thinking and integrated Christians at university
- Understand God and His world
- Defend God and His work
This is a very exciting adventure to set out on – and it gives University a far greater meaning and purpose than merely getting job at the end of it. Even better, I would suggest that it is a great antidote to the cynicism we see all around us.