Loving the Loveable | Love Commandments
The Love Commandments: We attach so many meanings to the word love, but what about love as a command, what is God doing in his commands? Unpack with us in this ...
The Love Commandments: We attach so many meanings to the word love, but what about love as a command, what is God doing in his commands? Unpack with us in this five part bible series. This is part two.
“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.”
This is a whole-life command if there ever was one. Love God with all my heart – my dreams and longings, my affections and thoughts, the way I behave towards others and myself, what I think about, what I study, how I reason, the decisions I make, my idle thoughts, my opinions, my integrity.
Love God with all my soul – with who I am and who I long to be, my personality and character, my spiritual desires.
Love God with all my strength – the way I eat, what I wear, the exercise I do, how much I work, how much I rest, the sleep I get.
The problem is, I don’t think I can. I look at this commandment and feel like Sisyphus pushing a large boulder up a grey, barren rocky mountain, only to have it continually roll down again. It seems both impossible and futile. The Israelites must have felt the same way. Time and again, as we read through the prophets, they fail. They offer God their sacrifices but do not love him in their hearts. They do all the right things but act in the wrong way.
Jesus reaffirms the importance of the old command to love God. But, of course, Jesus does not merely reaffirm the law – he fulfils it. He was the only one who lived God’s law to the letter, and his death on the cross stands us in the centre of that obedient life. In Christ, this commandment is made possible. The Holy Spirit renews us from the inside out: gradually, as we submit to Christ, our heart and mind, soul and body turn to the Lord.
If the Christian life feels like the life of Sisyphus, then we’re pushing the wrong boulder up the wrong mountain. Yoke yourself with Christ, as his burden is light – free from guilt and shame. In him and through him the task becomes possible.
But it also finds its purpose in Christ. He takes me on a journey into a relationship with the Lord, one that is not ultimately dependent on my success or failure, my strength or weakness, my sin or purity: no, this whole-of-life journey is utterly dependent on his grace.
For Further Reflection