The Christian life is not mind or heart but mind and heart.
I am reading After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters by N.T. Wright currently and it has been really helpful and really challenging. In my desire to avoid any kind of works based religion I have too often ignored the importance of good works. Wright has offered me an important corrective.
This morning I was reading Ephesians 4:17–32 and it tied in with a section from Wright’s work that I’m in on the importance of the Christian mind. We have entered into a time where there has been a loss of Christian intellectualism in America. The Church in America has become all about the heart. My training at seminary in communication focused on engaging people’s emotions and their “hearts.” Engaging the mind and the renewal of the mind was largely ignored.
Yet, as I read in Ephesians 4:17 and following I am struck by how the mind and heart are so intertwined. We can not pull them apart. The renewal of the mind is critical to the renewal of the heart.
Check out verses 17 and 18,
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
Paul ties hardness of heart to the futility of the mind.
Then look at 20–24,
But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Putting off the “old self” and putting on the new self is connected to the renewal of the mind.
Heart change is intricately linked to mind change. We must be working on transforming our minds as well as our hearts. How can this be done? It is done through studying the Scriptures, reading good books, listening to good books, listening to podcasts, and the like. There are seminaries that have a masters degree worth of material online for free.
Do you want to change your heart? Do you want to change your actions? Transform your mind. It takes work but it is worth it.