March 05, 2017
The curse of our lives, evident since the fall, is the curse of a divided love. Every problem in our lives (and in our world) would be solved if we simply followed the first and foremost commandment: to love God with no divisions.
28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’
31 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12)
Notice the 4 ""all's"" in this command: ""all your heart…all your soul…all your mind…all your strength."" Most of us live our lives with our affections, our mind/emotion/will, and our strength divided. We are ""half-hearted creatures"" as C.S. Lewis says, playing around with the things of this world and missing what an undivided love could bring to us.
ALL IS POSSIBLE
But there is something vital we must consider. Jesus said, ""You shall love…"" like this. If God is God, then He cannot ask us to do anything that we cannot do by His grace. If He tells us to forgive, then we can forgive. To ""pray without ceasing"" then it is possible. And here He tells us to love Him wholly with every fiber of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is not only commanded, it is possible.
I would suspect that to begin this process we must begin with a brutally honest self-examination. What do we love? When you love something you pursue it, cherish it, give time and attention to it, live for it. So, what object in our lives garners that kind of attention? Our selves? Do we protect, cherish, and pursue everything we can for ourselves? Then we love self more than Him, for instance. Do we pursue, cherish, give time and attention and live for our reputation? our comfort? our pleasure? What is it that has pulled us away from ""simple, pure devotion to Jesus Christ""?
LESS-THAN-ALL AS IDOLATRY
Whatever has become the objection of our deep affection has become our god--the thing we worship. And we are to have ""no other gods"" beside Him. The great ""shemah"" quoted in vs. 28 is the foundation of Christianity and a Godward life. It was written on the doorpost of every Jewish home and should be inscribed on the entry to our lives. ""The Lord our God, the Lord is one."" There is One God, He is OUR God, and He is to be our LORD and master. No one else should be worshiped and served.
ALL LEADS TO FULFILLMENT OF ALL THAT MATTERS AND LASTS
Not only are these ""all's"" commanded, but their observance is the key to the fulfillment of the greatest horizontal command--to ""love your neighbor as yourself."" Isn't this what heaven is like? A ""world of love"" as Jonathan Edwards describes? Paul would later say that ""love is the fulfillment of the law"" (Gal. 5:24) i.e., when you are in this flow of vertical and horizontal love you will fulfill every command because you will be driven by the greatest force and highest motivation.
It would seem then that our highest goal today would be to seek and obey the grace of God to love Him like this. Refuse every other affection that is placed above Him. Evaluate every siren call from the enemy as a pull from the greatest, most important command. Refuse to ""love the world and the things of the world"" which are temporal, fleeting, and merely momentarily fulfilling.
At the end of the day it boils down to the one question asked of our forefather in the faith: ""Do you love Me?""
Well, do you?
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