We saw last week that Engaging with Scripture is a relational and active process. It is relational in that it draws us to spend time in communion with God. And it is active in that it invites us to come to God through His Word in acts of mind work (meditation, reflection, contemplation, and such).
As we further explore this powerful Spiritual Discipline, it is important that we keep in mind that it is part of our method – our method for experiencing spiritual transformation.
The process of Engaging with Scripture leads to transformation, and it does so through the mind. We simply cannot love God and be transformed without involving our mind. For the mind is the gateway to the heart.
In other words, our spiritual transformation begins with learning.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Before we take another step, we need to make one thing perfectly clear. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Knowing about God is being able to recite facts about His character, His deeds, and His historical works. Knowing God is more than knowing facts, it’s living in relationship with Him.
Learning the facts about God involves the mind. Knowing God requires time, intention, and effort. It requires involvement of the mind-to-heart pathway.
The Spiritual Discipline of Engaging with Scripture is one way we can implement this pathway in our lives coming to know Him. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture are the chief ways we learn.
Sadly, many Christians try to love God and seek for Spiritual Transformation using only their heart. In bypassing their mind’s involvement, they not only short circuit the mind-to-heart pathway, but they also fail to heed the words of Scripture.
1. Learning is commanded (Proverbs 23:12)
This is an exhortation to the pursuit of knowledge. This is not the simple recitation of facts. Rather it is understanding and skillful application of God’s truth in our lives.
2. Learning characterizes the wise person (Proverbs 18:15)
The wise Christian is humble and teachable. They know that no matter how old they are or how long they have been a Christian, there is much yet to learn. The wise person regards knowledge as a precious treasure. They seek it out and steward it well.
3. Learning fulfills the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-30)
God did not say, “Love the Lord with all your heart.” Nor did He say, “Love the Lord with all your heart and strength.” He included our mind. God commands that we love Him with our whole being.
4. Learning is essential for growing in Christlikeness (Romans 12:2)
Mind renewal occurs through learning. Unless we renew our minds, we will not be able to discern God’s will. We will not grow in Christlikeness. No spiritual transformation will come.
LEARNING TAKES DISCIPLINE
Did you notice in #2 above that neither long life nor a lengthy Christian walk necessarily means we have grown in knowledge (Job 32:8-9)?
Learning takes discipline. We must set about with great intention to learn. Effort is required. Learning will not happen by osmosis.
Those who desire to learn about God and from that learning to know Him would do well to heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:
Rightly handling the Word of God requires commitment and diligence. The fruit of which is understanding.
Engaging with the Scripture is our method for knowing God and being transformed by Him.
As we interact intentionally, purposefully, and consistently with the Bible text our mind is engaged. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating aid our understanding. Regular reflection and assessment about our learning help to move knowledge from our mind to our heart, helping us grow in Christlikeness.
In our desire to know God (John 17:3) and to be transformed into Christlikeness (Colossians 1:27), may we be willing to do what it takes. May we be willing to discipline ourselves to be diligent and faithful to the task for our good and for His glory.