At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. – Matthew 11:25-26
This passage has always perplexed me. I belong to a church that once posted a sign on its front door reading, “Jesus Christ came to take away your sins, not your mind.” Christianity can claim some very brilliant minds. And I, personally, value intellectual exploration a great deal: the world and the cosmos, the history of humankind, the study of theology and scripture. What does Jesus mean that his truth is hidden from the wise and intelligent and given to infants instead?
Recently I had an experience that has thrown some light on this. For weeks a profound doubt had been building within me. I had been nagged by the question of whether I am serving God in the way that God desires, and that question had pulled the blanket off the deeper question. The notion that God became flesh and walked among us – even that there is a God at all – suddenly seemed sort of ludicrous.
I have gone through this cycle of belief and unbelief several times in my life, so I wasn’t panicked by these thoughts. For me they often herald the beginning of a deeper understanding, a more profound relationship with the Holy. So I finally faced into them and let them have their say.
How do I know the truth of the Christian story? Couldn’t it be that I have just bought the line fed to me from the time I was a child? Every spiritual experience can be explained away. My faith could be nothing more than the accumulation of misread stimuli and conditioned responses. So said my mind.
After I had let this argument unfold and I was wondering what to do with it, I became aware of a deeper inner center. I became aware of my heart. This is the true core of me, more so than my mind, the place of volition, intuition and feeling. It spoke quietly to the rest of me, and did so with great certainty. This has never happened to me before.
My heart tells me that it has no question of belonging to the living God and to Christ. Furthermore, it never has. My belief is not a matter of the mind; it is from this deeper place, the place where Christ himself dwells.
The mind is a wonderful tool, and intellectual adventures are delightful and nourishing. We can use our brains to figure out tons of things about the world, about ourselves, and about our faith. But minds are built to measure, to compare, to distinguish and to name. They are not equipped to decide matters of belief.
Every time I turn to God with a muttered word or open myself to the inner solitude of contemplation – each time I pray – I become like an infant. I set aside my wisdom and my intellect to rest in the newness of a fresh beginning, a brand new moment with God. God writes on my heart. Apparently God always has.