Love God With All?
“Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Have you ever thought about what appears to be a paradox between the first two commandments that Jesus called the first and greatest commandment and the second which is like it?
Paradox = contradiction, enigma, mystery
In the first commandment we are called to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength. If we love God will ALL where then is the capacity for loving our neighbors or ourselves? There appears to be a contradiction here an enigma or a mystery to these two coexisting in the same person.
All is all. The Scriptures do not say with mostof our hearts love God and then with the rest love your neighbor and your self in a 50/50 split. That would fit human logic but it’s not the commandment. So, how do we love God with ALL our hearts and still have capacity for loving our neighbors and our selves.
Considering the human capacity for love, we are capable of loving all kinds of things and people, some more than others, but still in a wide-ranging set of loved objects. When we have strong feelings of desire for something that pleases our senses or engages our emotions at a deep level of human experience that brings joy and happiness particularly sensory pleasure we call that love.
This is the basis for the love of a husband and wife but theirs is a more profound love in that their relationship is more akin to the relationship of Christ and the Church. More about that later.
There is the love that is expressed in the love a mother for a child a child for his or her parents, the love of a brother or sister for his or her siblings. This familial love is different from sensual love but can be equally or even more passionate, heart engaging and certainly more lasting than the latter.
What about the love between friends? In this love there are no blood ties that connect them, no marriage contract that binds them, no force to bring them together other than their love for one another. The relationship of David and Jonathan is an example of this kind of love. Their commitment of love for one another was born of their mutual passion for God and for their people, the nation of Israel. They held many interests in common and enjoyed the fellowship of each other’s company.
Considering all these, if God demands ALL our love, what does it mean that He also demands us to love our neighbors? The two are really not dichotomous or contrary to one another. We can love God with all our hearts and, within that love, also love others and our selves.
How? When we are filled with God’s love that love demands outward expression to others. That is the nature of God. He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. When the fullness of our capacity to love is only directed narrowly toward God to the exclusion of others and ourselves we show that we love neither God nor others.
Inherent on the love for God is the desire to do His will and be obedient to His commandments.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me." John 14:24
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46
Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, is not so much about a feeling as it is about doing something to benefit and enrich the lives of others while not neglecting our selves also. When we truly, fully and completely love God we show that love by our works of faith and acts of kindness extended to the poor and the way we keep our selves in good health, mentally, physically and emotionally by the Godly choices we make for our wellbeing.
When we are in good health, strength and vitality we are more capable of expressing the fullness of God’s love to others. When we share God’s love with others we draw them inevitably closer to Him and they then by their own choice are moved to receive Him as Savior and Lord, because the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces them of His love.
Only by loving God with All our heart, soul, mind and strength are we fully positioned to be as effective as possible in fulfilling the Great Commission and of living the most fulfilling life we can with love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. This is the life and that more abundantly that Jesus has come to give us.