No easy answers
Loving the Lord with all we have, including our minds, means that the answers to life’s questions may not always be simple. And we may not even come to an answer. Sometimes we have to live with ambiguity, and that can be scary.
I was listening to a Christian call-in show in the car one day on my way to work. A woman wanted to vent her frustration with the “liberals” who claimed that human activities were changing our atmosphere, in this case, the ozone layer. “How can my choice of deodorant change the planet? Give me a break.” She wanted to dismiss decades of highly technical, nuanced scientific research by experts, authorities on atmospheric science, to a simple, sarcastic phrase: “Give me a break.” Unfortunately, most topics just aren’t that easy.
If we’re going to love the Lord with all of our mind, we’re going to have to acknowledge the fact that many of life’s toughest topics are highly complex, and we’re going to have to be willing to either think deeply about them or at least acknowledge their complexity.
As a society we’ve become rather lazy. We have fast food, microwaves, online shopping, overnight delivery. We’ll recycle, but only if we don’t have to separate the different items into their specific recycling streams: paper, plastic, aluminum. In the church we expect Sunday service to be no more than an hour. And the pastor had better not go on blabbing for more than 30 minutes or we just might rebel.
In the church, we’ve also come to expect easy answers. We want clear answers for every question: salvation, homosexuality, heaven and hell. We also want clear answers for questions outside of the Scriptures like which political candidate to vote for and whether to trust scientists.
We’ve gotten so lazy as consumers that we don’t want to have to purchase our cable TV from one provider, our phone service from another, and our internet from a third. Instead, we want it all bundled. One-stop shopping. We’re too busy to shop around for the best deal, so we just bundle them together. So what if we didn’t really want all those cable channels. We actually don’t need wireless, but it came with the bundle, so it’s part of our deal. Is digital phone really necessary when everyone in the house has a cell phone? Doesn’t matter – it came with the bundle.
Similarly, we can get so intellectually lazy that we simply want to bundle all of the ideas that make up our world view. We don’t have the time or energy to research every issue, so we look for a bundle that has answers to all of them, and we buy it all. In one bundle that we call “conservative Christianity” we find ourselves having answers to all of our spiritual, financial, political, and social questions. We may not have thought all of them through ourselves, but they’re part of the bundle. So we adopt them as our own.
One bumper sticker that illustrates this approach to our faith says “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” On one level, there’s great truth in this trite little saying. As Christians, the Bible is our foundation for spiritual truth, and there’s great comfort knowing that we can trust God. On the other hand, it embodies a lazy faith – it says, I’m too lazy to wrestle with the complexity of controversial issues or the possibility that our interpretation of particular Bible verses may actually be missing the mark. It’s so much easier to simplify things to an eight-word bumper sticker and get on with life. Right?
Jesus’ response to the Pharisee in Luke 10 includes loving God with all our mind. There’s no room for intellectual laziness in our faith. We have to resist the temptation to oversimplify the tough issues and be willing to face them objectively, on their own merits. When our best response to a challenge of something we believe is “give me a break”, we’re probably being intellectually lazy.
Questions for thought
What are the elements of your worldview and how did you come by them?
Are you willing to hear and consider the challenges to your views?
Are your responses to challenges simple and sarcastic like “give me a break”? Or are they well thought out and rational?
Lord, show us what it means to love you with all our minds. Give us the courage to reject intellectual and spiritual laziness and to contend with complex issues without oversimplifying them. God I pray that our faith would be founded so firmly on you, the solid rock, that no challenge to our worldview would shake it. Be with us, Lord, as we wrestle with these tough topics. And remind us in them all that you are much bigger than any doubts or fears we may have. In the name of Christ. Amen.