August 10, 2014
By John Ulrich, Senior Pastor
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5
1. This is the most basic command from God, and the basis of all other commandments.
This command can be intimidating because we are told to love God totally. It is a call beyond general faith. Jesus later includes the “mind” in our confession of faith: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind.” Mtt. 21:37
This command from God calls us to question, “What part of my whole self am I still holding back?” No one does this perfectly, but we never outgrow following this basic command.
The command of Deut. 6:5 (Shema) is based on the confession of the previous verse, declaring Israel’s total faith in who God is: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deut. 6:4) Deut. 6:2,3 reminds the Israelites that God has everything they need – safety, health, circumstances, prosperity. God is willing and able to share all this with us. We can truly be loyal and “put all our eggs in one basket” – of faith in the Lord God.
2. We are tempted to divide our loyalty
In the historical context, this command is about idolatry. Idolatry is all about protecting yourself by dividing your loyalty. We are tempted to divide our loyalties to get what we want. The question is, “Who can get me out of this jam for help, healing, and all my needs?”
Because of fear, we hold areas of our own control. Like the Israelites on their way to Canaan, we choose to have some parts of our lives where we will not lean on Yahweh. We sometimes think, “I could do better on my own.” We choose to divide our hearts in idolatry and hold back in areas of our lives, e.g., relationships, decisions, jobs, tasks, family issues, retirement, the place where we live.
In Colossians 3:5, we are told to put away idolatry : “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, which is idolatry.”
In James 1:6-8, Christians are warned not to be double minded, “blown and tossed by the wind”, “unstable in all he does.”
As Christ’s followers, disciples, we are called to turn to Christ for him to break down the walls of division (idolatry) in our lives, one by one, so that He can live in every space. God wants the whole pie! He is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). There is only one God who has everything we need.
3. This command is for our good
Who was this Lord to Israel? Who was he to command the Israelites in Deut. 6:5?
a. He was the Creator.
b. He was their Redeemer.
c. He had a purpose, a mission for their nation to save the world through them.
d. God wanted to bless them.
God is all of the above described for Israel, and more to you and me. God is right to ask us to love him with our whole selves (heart, soul, strength, mind).