I recently attended a debate between a Christian and a Moslem. Both men were highly educated in both religions. The debate was polite, but both men were totally committed to their position and put their position clearly.
Watching that debate, and appreciating the excellence of explanation from both men, reminded me how empty head knowledge can be.
In a debate ideas are presented and dissected. So the process is essentially intellectual. That bogs down as soon as there is reason to doubt the source material on which thoughts are based. The Moslem speaker undermined confidence in the Bible, based on Moslem beliefs. With confidence in the Bible undermined all sincerely held beliefs of Christians can be appreciated, but discounted as misguided. Similarly, as the Quran is brought into question all Moslem beliefs can be similarly discredited as misguided.
The battle ends up being about respect for source documents. That’s the intellectual debate. Such debates can bog down in minutiae over interpretations of words and so on.
I realised, watching that debate, that the mind only delivers a limited experience of life. Our heart, our inner beliefs and feelings, are apart from the dissection of detail. Most people hold strongly held ideas because of heart beliefs and what those beliefs allow them to accept as fact.
As soon as we hold a position of any kind our whole being relies on upholding that belief. It is an insult to our intelligence if we are found to hold a wrong idea. Our pride can be trampled on and our self-worth damaged if our beliefs prove to be wrong.
So, whether we realise it or not, we have a deeper, emotional stake in the ideas. We seek validation for our ideas and may dig ourselves ever deeper into our beliefs, strongly resistant to evidence to the contrary. This might appear to be intellectual, but it’s a much deeper issue. It is an issue with our heart.
When God inspects us He does not do a brain scan. God won’t test us on ideas, facts and figures. There will be no exam of Bible knowledge. God looks directly at our heart.
“The Lord told Samuel, Look not on his appearance, or his height; for I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7
“As for you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve Him wholeheartedly and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands the intention of every thought. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1Chronicles 28:9
“You justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.” Luke 16:15
“The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2Chronicles 16:9
So behind all the thoughts in our head are our heart attitudes. That includes our fears and pride, jealousies, rebellions, lusts, and the like. God knows that what we claim to believe with our mind is a product of choices we have made in our heart. Some have chosen to be blind, or to hold ideas that serve their selfish intent, or to remain in control of their life, and so on.
I have found, in my own limited experience, that people are more ready to respond to the cry in their heart than the questions in their head. People know when they are unsatisfied deep within, often looking for answers and hungry for more in life.
There can be great effect when speaking to people’s hearts, rather than their head.
The enemy likes to engage our mind with ideas, such as the serpent tempting Eve. Doubts and reinterpretations were sown into Eve’s mind and she became deceived. The lies tempted her heart, offering greater happiness and importance.
So ideas thrown around in our world today also tempt us. We are tempted to doubt God and God’s goodness, by the promise of enticing benefits. Ideas are sown in our head, but they hook our heart, and God sees our heart and knows why we accept those beliefs.
So if you are unsettled by ideas that raise doubts about your faith, stop and recognise that in your heart you love and trust God. Affirm where you stand in your heart, and your head will likely clear up.
If you find yourself in a debate with someone try to consider the heart issues at stake. If the person has taken a strong position in their heart, then don’t argue, but pray for them. You might be able to connect with their inner desire to be right, or to find something solid to stand on.
One way to fish for their heart is to consider and even ask, “Why is this so important to you?” They might open their heart a little as they acknowledge their inner needs.
Christ and God’s love are the answer to all our inner needs.
If you feel confused and fear that you are unable to defend your beliefs and you get rattled by arguments about things in the Bible, remember that God is looking at your heart, not your head. Settle in your heart that you love God and put your faith in Christ. Then call on the name of the Lord. You don’t have to understand God’s reality to enjoy His salvation.
And may the Lord bless you in both your Head and Heart.