Love God with all of Yourself

“The command to love God is first
not simply because it’s most important
but because it’s the only commandment.
God is One; God is the only one; God is all.
How we do anything is how we love God.
How we love a neighbor, love a stranger,
love an enemy, this is our love of God.
How we eat our food or notice beauty,
how we express gratitude, treat mistakes,
trust grace, offer gifts, be patient or forgive
is how we love God.
Our tenderness or harshness
toward the ugly and the disturbing,
our acceptance of pleasure and torment,
our longing for wholeness,
our hunger for love,
our longing for God,
is how we love God.
Our sitting and listening,
our growing and being,
our breathing,
is how we love God.

         •

O Love,
perfect your love in us. “

[Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes daily email of 10.28.15 unfoldinglight.net]

I subscribed to Steve’s daily emails—Monday thru Friday—and his poetry is often inspiring, but this one is so succinct, so powerful a statement, such a summary of the Christian life, the bottom line for us all, in the First Great Commandment of Jesus. [Mark 12:29-30] We can distract ourselves with arguments about who has the greatest faith or which passage is the key one, or who has the right beliefs. But today I am writing about the bottom line for each of us: how do we love God? What is proof positive that we have truly turned our lives over to him? Where does our love of God show up in the rest of our lives? Or is there any life in us that doesn’t belong to God?

Steve’s poetry reveals the fault line in us that thinks that we can be partial in our love, that we can apply it haphazardly and that somehow we are still loving God. There is no umbrage, no place to hide, where God cannot see the intention of our hearts. If disinterest arises in you towards the person standing in front of you. If we’re only halfway paying attention to the conversation with your spouse or child… If you can’t forgive someone else or yourself… If you are not filled with love…If you are not full of gratitude for life itself…If you have enemies…If God’s ways don’t penetrate your life beyond Sunday…These are the fault lines in us that reveal that we’re still captivated by the world’s ways and have a long way to go to embracing God’s ways.

It is really about integrity, not perfection: about the capacity to be the same with our private attitudes as we are demonstrating on the outside to others. No persona that we try to project to the outside world covers our fault lines, if we have them. If we have integrity, we are claiming them. No more hidden judgments, we are lifting them up for healing. No more hidden guilt and shame, we are asking God to heal these fault lines in us.

Maybe you haven’t lived in earthquake country as I have. A fault line is the place where quakes have happened before, like the San Andreas Fault in Northern California, where two giant tectonic plates(there are 7 or eight of these plates in the earth’s outer crust) rub up against each other. Tensions build along these fault lines until a quake is inevitable. We could think that these fault lines exist in us between God’s and the world’s ways. They create tension in us, until we are exposed for what is true about us: the guilt-producing or shameful acts or words that belie what we’re trying so hard for on the surface of our lives. Once we acknowledge our faults and fault-lines we have a choice as to whose ways we will follow—the world’s or God’s.

Undoing the world’s grip on us is no easy task, but the gift of doing it is the freedom to be who we really are, who we were created to be. We are free of society’s shoulds and oughts, free to be our most natural, God-connected and God-created selves. We are free from the false, but perfect-looking persona. I think this is why Jesus said, “my yoke is easy and my burden light.” [Matthew 11:30] Not only does he do a lot of the heavy lifting for us, but he is helping us to off-load from our shoulders what does not belong to our true selves.

The First Great Commandment is the only one we have to follow, because in following it, loving God with all of ourselves, we cannot violate any of the others. If we are true to God, we will be true to our fellow man. If we are allowing God to fulfill our needs, there is in us no greed or adultery or murder or theft or lies. We have no other gods between us and God; we do not worship any graven images; we do not take the Lord’s name in vain; we keep the Sabbath holy; we honor our parents. The one commandment encompasses all the rest. So let’s get right with God and all else will fall into place!

__________

Questions to ponder over the week: What would loving God with all of me—heart, soul, mind and body—look like in me? Do I confuse being perfect for God with loving God with all of me? Will I pray for the wisdom to know the next step for me in totally loving the Lord?

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who love him with all our heart, soul, mind and body. May we put nothing before God in our lives. May we rest in his arms forever.

My book, “Thy Kingdom Come!” is up on Amazon in paperback and digital versions. Check it out under my full name, Patricia Said Adams or Patricia Adams if you’re interested in reading it.

Also look on this FB page for videos about the kingdom that complement the book: “What Jesus said about the kingdom,” The kingdom is about loving God,” “The kingdom is about purpose” and “The Kingdom is about community.”

Read the whole blog at bythewaters.net or await Monday’s thru Fridays offerings on FB. I’m on YouTube at By the Waters with Pat Adams and on Twitter at BTWwithPatAdams.

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