So, what life priorities should we pursue as Christians? Jesus’ discussion with the scribe about the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-34) shows us the way.
Last time we examined the easily overlooked point that the God that we are to love is the God of the Scriptures, who revealed himself to Israel and established a covenant relationship with the people of Israel.
Today, we’ll look at what exactly it means to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
If we revisit the original context of Jesus’ quote (Deut 6:4-5), we can see that it surfaces soon after the 10 commandments (Deut 5:6-21). The more immediate context of Deut 6:1-3 further stresses the importance of obedience to God, in response to the grace he had shown the people of Israel. After our target passage God calls for the people’s exclusive loyalty (Deut 6:12-15): “do not forget the LORD” and “do not follow other gods,” because “the LORD God, who is among you, is a jealous God.” Clearly, love for God is meant to result in obedience and undivided allegiance to him.
Taking his cue from the original passage, Jesus’ repetition – “with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength” reinforces this idea of wholehearted, uncompromised loyalty to God. In other words, this is a love that is meant to have deep roots, beyond casual affirmation, superficial emotion, or unthinking affiliation.
In discipleship and mission, love for God is where we must begin. For discipleship, we must be disciples – “learners” – of what it means to love and please God and not simply operate on auto-pilot. We must be discerning about how to engage with a holy God who has opened up a way to know him through Christ (and his death and resurrection) and by the Spirit. The global church’s missionary efforts must first and foremost help people to know God through Christ and grow in devotion to him. In short, we are to make the Greatest Commandment our top concern and teach others to do the same.
We’ll take one final look at the Greatest Commandment in the next post. The link is below: