Posted by: ritagone | January 31, 2018

“God’s Mission Statement For Our Life”

 

This is taken from one of my morning devotional books, Ken Gire’s “The Reflective Life,” which is really causing me to consider how I live out my relationship to Jesus Christ.  I hope you enjoy it and are challenged by it as much as I have been.

 

“The reflective life is a way of living that heightens our spiritual senses to all that is sacred.  The Scriptures are one of those sacred things.  For the Jew, the most sacred passage in all the Scriptures is the Shema (pronounced Shemmah, with the accent on the last syllable).  It is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “hear,” the first word in that most sacred passage.

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The Shema was the mission statement for believing Jews.  It regulated every area of their lives, from work to worship.  It was placed in the phylacteries they wore on their foreheads and within the Mezuzah they fastened to their doorposts.  It was recited every morning and evening, and at the close of the most holy day, which is the Day of Atonement.  It was also the last word breathed from the lips of the dying.

The command is the heart of the Old Testament.  Somehow, though, the beat of that heart got drowned out by the incessant strum of lesser commands.  Something like the simplicity of the Constitution getting lost in the library of legal cases that were meant to clarify it.

A lawyer looking for clarification asked Jesus, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ Jesus answered by quoting the Shema. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment,’ Jesus explained.  ‘And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40, see also Romans 13:8-10).

This vertical as well as horizontal orientation of our faith can be seen as far back as the giving of the Ten Commandments.  The first four commandments, which were probably inscribed on the first tablet, deal exclusively with our relationship to God.  The last six, which were probably inscribed on the second tablet, deal exclusively with our relationship to our neighbor.  The two tablets stand in a cause-and-effect relationship to each other.  If we love God, that love will naturally spill over into our relationships with people.

This same cause-and-effect relationship is the basis of John’s argument in 1 John 4:20. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Before we can love our neighbor, we must see our neighbor and hear our neighbor. Observing the way a gardener observes plants.  Watching their buds when they’re blooming.  Watering their roots when they’re wilting.  But we cannot weep with those who weep or rejoice with those who rejoice unless we first see something of their tears or hear something of their laughter.  If we can learn to see and hear our neighbor, maybe, just maybe, we can learn to see and hear God.  And seeing Him and hearing Him, to love Him.

To passionately love God and other people.

This is what matters.

This is all that matters.

And all that God requires.

 

But it requires our all to fulfill.

That is the mission statement, so to speak, of the reflective life.  Not to see better or to hear better but to love better.  To better love all that is sacred.  And of all that is sacred, nothing is more sacred than God and the people He created as the object of His affection.

 

 

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