“The moment we open our heart to communicate with our head, love becomes less of an obligation and more of an empowering force.”
Love Like That
By Les Parrott
Can anyone really love like Jesus? After all, he raised the bar of love to extraordinary heights. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Seriously? This is love beyond reason, isn’t it? Of course.
And that’s the point. Divine love defies explanation. It aims straight at the heart. And, as I’m about to show you, that’s where we find its empowering secret. But let’s not be too quick to dismiss our cognitive capacity when it comes to extraordinary love.
We’ve all heard how even the most advanced supercomputers don’t hold a candle to the human brain. A computer comparable to the human brain, for example, would need to be able to perform more than 38 thousand trillion operations per second. Our brains make computers look like Tinkertoys.
To say the human brain is amazing is simply an understatement. Complete understanding of the brain will be a long time coming. But truth be told, the human brain is child’s play compared to the intangible human mind. “The mind is its own place,” said English poet John Milton, “and in itself / Can make Heav’n of Hell, and a Hell of Heav’n.” Scientists have pretty well mapped out the terrain of the brain, but they are far from understanding the complexities of the mind.
For starters, you can’t x-ray the mind. It’s beyond physical location. The French philosopher René Descartes declared that the mind, while it might live in the brain, was a nonmaterial thing, entirely separate from the physical tissues found inside the head. Furthermore, said Descartes, in one of history’s most memorable sound bites, “I think, therefore I am.” His point: Consciousness is the only sure evidence that we actually exist. The Bible actually said it first: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Pardon the pun, but the mind is pretty heady. It leaves scientists and philosophers alike with much to ponder.
What scientists do know about the mind is that it is an intensely private part of each individual. Nobody has access to its intuitive and rational parts but the owner. No one can “know your mind” unless you tell them. Your mind holds your sense of self. Your mind is synonymous with your thoughts. Thus, we “make up our minds,” we “change our minds,” or we are sometimes “of two minds.” In fact, it’s sometimes said that the mind is what your brain does. Your mind, in a word, thinks.
Here’s the good news: Loving like Jesus doesn’t require us to put our minds in neutral and set aside our skepticism or critical thinking. It certainly doesn’t ask that we put our intellect in abeyance. Far from it. As Oswald Chambers said, “Christian thinking is a rare and difficult thing; so many seem unaware that the first great commandment according to our Lord is, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God … with all thy mind.’”
So, when it comes to the seemingly irrational ways Jesus loved others, we need to be honest, discerning, analytical, and reasoned. We need to acknowledge that it simply doesn’t make sense. Well, not quite. Truth is, it doesn’t make sense if we only use our mind.
The Heart of the Matter
As you are reading the words on this page, your brain is sending electrical impulses through a network of brain cells so small that thousands of them could fit into the period at the end of this sentence. But these impulses are not exclusive to the brain. The heart, as it turns out, is essential to our reasoning.
Until the 1990s, scientists assumed that only the brain sent information to the heart, but now we know that it works both ways. The heart physically communicates with the brain through a complex nervous system of neurons, neurotransmitters, proteins, and other support cells. In fact, the pulse created by the heart is actually like a “blood pressure wave” that reaches and energizes every cell of the brain, influencing emotions and other activities such as attention, perception, memory and problem-solving.
This is why expressions such as “my heart aches,” “open your heart,” or “my heart goes out to you” are often more than symbolic. They make a deeper connection than our rational thinking. They resonate more deeply than our thoughts.
Intelligence alone, without involvement of the heart, can be dangerous. We run the risk of becoming “heartless” or having a heart of stone. It’s what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was getting at when he said, “But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”
Without the heart, we lack true understanding. Without the heart, we lack the capacity to love like Jesus.
Here’s the point: If we seek this high-level love exclusively with our minds, without tuning into our heart, loving like Jesus becomes an overwhelming obligation. If we try solely to reason our way to loving like Jesus, discouragement prevails. Spiritual burnout runs rampant. If we try to love like Jesus only using our head and not our heart, Jesus becomes a mere model to follow. Love becomes a to-do list.
Now that’s not all bad. But Jesus is more than a model. Jesus is a power to embrace. When we embrace the love of Jesus with our heart, when we open ourselves to accept his love again and again, we find the secret to loving like Jesus. The moment we open our heart to communicate with our head, love becomes less of an obligation and more of an empowering force. And our relationships reap the dividends.
So, to love like Jesus, we need to think and feel. We need reason and emotion. We need both our head and heart, working together. It’s the only way to bring perfect love into our imperfect life.
Here’s the bottom line: when you open your heart, love changes your mind. Let that sentence soak in. Your mind can do an about-face when it receives a divine impulse from your heart. Your mind can be transformed when it “listens” to your heart. You’ll experience a revolution in your thinking when you allow your heart to enter the conversation. It’s what Paul was getting at when he said, “You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
If you are just looking for a reasonable love, you’ll miss out on an extraordinary love. You will miss out on the power to find a love you didn’t know you could experience.
Excerpted from Love Like That: 5 Relationship Secrets from Jesus by Les Parrott Copyright © 2018 by Les Parrott. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. ThomasNelson.com.