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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 22:34–46

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (NRSV)

If there was any passage in all of the Christian canon that gets straight to the point of our Reformed heritage, this would be it. Boil down all of the Christian scriptures and tradition, sift through centuries of sermons and theological discourse, wade into the murky waters of ecclesiastical curiosities, and you will find no other scripture close to the heart of who we are as reformed Christians.

Jesus is being tested by the religious authorities and is asked which commandment in the law is the greatest. Jesus answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your mind.” There it is, as bold as bold can be. Jesus is instructing us to love God with our minds. This is not a passive love—but an active, grounded, rational love. The mind is the source of imagination, judgment, and memory. The mind is the control center reasonable for processing our emotions and feelings—as complicated as that may be. Perhaps most importantly, the mind is the womb of reason.

One of the greatest impacts of the Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the use of reason in Christian faith—for clergy and laity alike. Protestant theologians began to discover that faith could be illuminated by reason and that God can speak to us through that reason. In our Reformed tradition, we hold faith and reason both in tension and in concert with one another. We do not check our minds at the door of the sanctuary or the classroom, but use them to sort, process, debate, and challenge. We ask questions and empower our curiosities so that we might deepen our faith and strengthen our love for God.

As we observe and celebrate the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation, I give thanks for those who went before us, who struggled and sacrificed so that we might fully live out the greatest commandment—to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds.

Thank you, O God, for the mystery of the human mind and the responsibility to use it. Help me to never squander this gift, but to engage my mind in such a way that I grow deeper in my love for you. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator

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