On Climbing Without Gear

Can I ask you a question?

The metaphor behind this blog is that of climbing a high peak. To me it’s a useful image of the Christian life: the attempt to master the truth God has revealed, with the result that we see things from his lofty perspective. Climbing mountains is no easy task – it requires work and discipline, but the view is worth it.

Which leads me to the subject of this post. It seems that a lot of us Jesus-follower-types never get too far from the lodge at the foot of the mountain. That’s hardly an original observation, I know. But it’s got me thinking: why not? I’d like to propose at least one reason (I’m sure there are many): we may be trying to ascend to lofty heights without using any gear.

What I mean is, we’re trying to climb toward the lofty peak of truth, but many of us don’t seem too keen on using one of the main pieces of equipment God has given us for the climb: the mind. Yes, I think it’s fair to picture our mind as a tool God equipped us with to progress in Christ-likeness.

For example, we all know that a central aspect of the Christian life is to gradually become more like Jesus (that’s exactly what "spiritual maturity" means in the Bible). But "becoming like Jesus" means learning to see life the way Jesus sees it, and having the same goals, priorities and passions that Jesus has.

And this is where the mind comes in. You see, I don’t know how Jesus sees life, or what his goals and priorities are, until I apply my mind to understand his mind as he’s revealed it in the Bible. I think that’s why Paul said we’re supposed to be "transformed by the renewing of [our] mind," in Romans 12.

Of course understanding how Jesus thinks doesn’t guarantee that I’ll become more like him. But not understanding how Jesus thinks does guarantee that I won't become more like him.

Which brings me back to Christians who get stranded shortly after leaving the lodge. Is one of the reasons because they left in tennis shoes and gym shorts, neglecting the most basic equipment? Harry Blamires thought so. This student of CS Lewis wrote a phenomenal book called The Christian Mind, which opens with the simple observation that "There is no longer a Christian mind." What he meant was that Christians don’t think "Christianly" anymore, largely because we’ve given up the idea of serious thinking at all.

So at last, my question: Is the mind vital to the Christian life, an adjunct part of it, or outright hostile to it? Why do many Christians seem to think that study and thinking isn't critical to Christian living, and may even be a hinderance to it?

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