Shema, love, and the God-life

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:25-27)

DSC_0018There has been some most excellent dialog (mostly via email) generated in response to yesterday’s post – “Recalibrating the Christian Man.” So today I’m going to share a couple of the comments in addition to my own thoughts.

First, here’s a comment/question one reader posed. It’s an honest, thoughtful question, and it remains to be seen if my answer will be of any help. Here’s the Q:

What do you think Jesus’ intent was in Luke 10:27 when he said that the way to eternal life was to love God with all of your heart, mind soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself? Was this a paradox?
What does “love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength” mean? Some say “love” means “obey”….. but that road leads to legalism.

Is the best way to love God simply to love other people? – C.K.

In his answer, Jesus was not only addressing the man’s heart, he was also referencing the heart of the law by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-6 – The Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.”

INVITATION: This is always the invitation that comes from Jesus – to love God with everything that we are, and to put that love into action by loving our neighbor.

And, no, I don’t believe simply loving other people is the best way to love God. I think that loving other people begins most effectively when we love God with everything that we are, and when we allow that relationship with God to transform us into the kind of people who carry the presence of Jesus into the world.

Another way of stating this is the idea that, if I want to move closer to someone else, the shortest distance possible is via moving closer to God. I can try, try, try to love Rebekah with more applied eloquence, or I can commit myself to a closer walk with God and allow God to lead me into more grace, more service, more encouragement, more kindness, more respect, etc…

Simply loving other people won’t cut it unless I first engage the transformational love of God and invite Jesus to love through me.

Simply loving other people won’t cut it unless I first engage the transformational love of God and invite Jesus to love through me.

STORY: Rebekah tells a story of trying – and failing – to love a very difficult person, over a long period of time. She eventually told God it was impossible for her to love that person. “Finally, we’re on the same page,” God said. “I didn’t ask you to love with your kind of love, but with my kind of love; this is something we can/must accomplish together.”

Sure enough, once Rebekah moved closer to God, God’s love was able to work miraculous good in an impossible situation.

OK, friends, we’re hard up against (and beyond) 500 words. Some of the other super-helpful comments will have to wait for tomorrow.

In love, and (only) because of God’s love – DEREK



Categories: Live Like You Mean It, The Life-Charged Life

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. I have to agree that love for God goes hand in hand with love for others, but to me they are not the same. Jesus lists them separately: Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
    Similar with love and obey. I think they are not the same, but they go hand in hand. John 14:23, Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
    (Thank you for the thought provoking blogs. They are food for the spirit.)

    Like

    • Thanks !
      We’re on the same page with this. That’s why I said it’s impossible to love others without first getting right with God. Otherwise all we have is humanism – and humanism doesn’t even scratch the surface of love!

      Like

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