We are going to continue the series on Hebraic thought. It is vitally important we understand how the writers of the Bible thought. Not a single writer of the Bible was a Greek. They were all Israelites. This means the way that they think is not the way that we think. We are going to continue with the second aspect of Greek versus Hebraic thinking.
Thought Pattern #2 that must be transformed: Abstract Versus Concrete
Greek thought views things as very abstract. The Greeks used to argue for hours about whether a table was a table or a horse a horse – or how we could ever really know it was a table or a horse. A table was viewed in terms of its “tableness”. They would debate about the meaning of love for hours.
If you ask most people “What is God?” – They will say He is ubiquitous, omniscient, all and knowing. Well, these are qualities of God, but they are abstract terms. Terms like faith become abstract and hard to explain with a Greek mindset.
The Hebraic mindset is very concrete. Things that we might think are abstract, such as love or God are compared to concrete objects in the visible world. For instance, God is compared to a shepherd (Psalm 23), fortress, or rock (Psalm 18:2). One of the Hebrew words for faith means to nurse a baby in your arms! By comparing God to these physical items in our world, it helps us to understand God. God is a shepherd in that He will guide us in the way that is best for us. He is a fortress because He will protect us. He is like a rock in that He is solid and dependable.
The danger of thinking abstractly is that important concepts in the Bible are misapplied. For instance, faith in the western world is usually used as a mental acknowledgement. In the western world, we often say that we believe something, whether or not our actions line up with what we profess to believe. So many people say that they believe in God, but the actions of so many “Christians” are either slack or opposite the Bible. Why is this?
The problem is that we view faith as an abstract, mental exercise. Therefore, no action is required on our part. Faith is simply we think, talk, or even argue about. The Biblical view of faith is that faith without works is dead (James 2). Our actions will prove what we really believe. Let’s practically apply this in our personal lives. If you believe there is $100 in your checking account, you will not have a problem writing a check for $50. If you do not believe the money is there, then you will not write the check. Abstract thinking causes us to fall into a spiritual apathy where we see no need to really live the Bible. Read Jesus’ words to the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22). This is the church era we are presently in, and this type of thinking is fueling inactivity in the Body of Christ. With faith as a mental abstraction, we do not see the need to act.
Here is another example of how this has affected our faith. People say they believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but they never try to operate in them. People say they believe in healing, but they never really pray for themselves or others to be healed. If we do not practice these things, then we really do not believe in it. Believing in these things is simply a mental thought exercise when we think like a Greek. When we think from the Hebraic perspective, they are real things that we practice because we believe them.
I challenge you to really sit down and think about some things you think you believe, but are not really practicing.