Love Overflowing with Knowledge

Love Overflowing with Knowledge

The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) calls us to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” But when Jesus quotes the Shema (Matthew 22, Mark 12) he adds “with all your mind” into the mix. We might be prone to keep love and the mind, the emotional and the intellectual, affections and knowledge, in separate hemispheres of life, but Jesus is giving us a gift: these are one cohesive thing.

The Bible is full of prayers for knowledge and understanding, prayers to know and recognize the path God has set for us, prayers for discernment, prayers that the mind would learn and grow. The word “disciple,” in its plainest sense, means “student,” one defined by what he or she is learning, defined by the vocation of following and learning from a teacher. To be disciples of Jesus means first and foremost that we have something to learn from him, that there is knowledge he has and we don’t have. Jesus and the Shema are making us people who love knowledge, who are eager to be free of falsehood, whose thoughts and decisions are steered by what we learn from Jesus. In 1 Peter 3, the apostle says, “Be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you.” Peter writes this to Gentile Christians, believers who have chosen to belong to Jesus in a wider world that doesn’t care about Jesus. Believers in this kind of context should be ready; sooner or later the question will come up – why do you consider Jesus so abundantly worthwhile? To have an answer ready is not to defeat the skeptics or anything so adversarial, but simply thinking through why Jesus is so infinitely important to us.

In Paul’s opening to Philippians, he prays for the church, “that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight, to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless.” Love, knowledge, discernment and decision-making are meant to all come from the same place. God is making and remaking us in his image, and that work is not finished until all the heart, soul, mind and strength are given completely to God. To love God with all the mind is to hand over the mind to God, all our knowledge, thoughts, ideas, decisions. We’re hesitant to give so much away, but when we do, we haven’t lost what we thought we’d lose. At the end everything we know, everything we think, everything we decide, we discover there’s something on the other side of it. This is what Paul calls the love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3) or the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4). God is taking us by the hand and leading us into a reality that exceeds the mind’s ability to put into words, a reality where knowledge and understanding struggle to follow.

We love God with all our mind so that God may transform the very ways in which we know and think and discern. We love God with all our mind in order to lean less and less on our own understanding, but lean completely on his. With the Shema’s help, we give God our all so that he will continue to make and remake us, so that we will experience a love and peace beyond what our minds can imagine.


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