YOU SHALL love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength. (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)
This, we are told, is the first and greatest commandment.
It has been the subject of much thought and prayer for thousands of years.
But what does it mean for you?
Christians place great emphasis to loving God with all their heart.
However, since we in the west tend to equate the concepts of ‘love’ and ‘heart’ with emotions, much of our faith expression is emotive.
We sing countless emotional songs about loving God.
This is not wrong.
We need disciples who are passionate about living out their faith in this way.
However, unless we recognise that in both Old and New Testaments, the ‘heart’ was considered the very core of our being, the source of not only emotions, but of life and intellect as well, we will live very unbalanced Christian lives.
Paul said in Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifi ce, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the
will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
It was some time before I realised that when I thought about Christ being in my heart I needed to go much deeper than allowing God to impact my emotions.
I had to take seriously the biblical understanding of ‘heart’ and allow God to shape my whole being, including my intellect.
Many people outside the church are convinced that they are expected to ‘leave their brains at the door’ if they come to church.
Sadly many of us have not really considered what it means to love God with our minds.
Too often I come across Christians who seek to end a conversation about faith by the words, “But I have always believed…” .
This implies that such a follower of Jesus already knows all there is to know about Jesus; about the Christian faith; about
Yet there is no other area of our lives in which we are satisfied with thinking the way we did as children.
In every aspect of our living we expect that we will grow, that our ideas will mature, that what we learnt at an earlier stage
of our lives will be enriched by deeper understanding and new knowledge.
In the letter to the Ephesians Paul suggests that God has gifted apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip us “until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ”. (Eph 4:13)
As a disciple of Jesus I can’t be satisfied until I reach the “full stature of Christ”.
Growing in our understanding of God has a vital evangelical purpose.
We live in a society that believes that science will provide all the answers and solve all of our problems.
This, of course, is nonsense.
Yet unless we engage in serious conversations that help those who have turned away from religious faith to realise that such faith is not irrational or simple fantasy we will not be able to win them for Christ.
We need disciples who can speak intellectually about their faith, not just emotionally.
We need a renewed passion that reflects the conversations that Paul had with those who dismissed his preaching as
Despite all the diffi culties we are going through as a Synod there have been some really exciting movements in recent years.
The Pilgrim Learning Community (PLC) began about four years ago and has been facilitating learning opportunities for hundreds of members of our church.
These men and women have engaged in study that has both excited and renewed their faith and commitment to serve Christ through their congregations.
Over the past year a few of us have been developing a program called Stretching Faith for young adults in our church.
This small, but growing, group of young adults have been reflecting on their approach to the scriptures, their understanding of the vision of the Uniting Church and the way that faith in Jesus Christ confronts the values and assumptions of our culture.
I have been encouraged to see these young adults engage their whole being in an exploration of faith.
If you feel unsure about your faith, if you have not been involved in study of the scriptures for years, why not contact PLC and see what opportunities might be open for you.
Christ still needs disciples who can follow Paul’s example in Athens and give an intelligent defence of their life in Christ so
that others might come to see that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
Those who feel lost want to find the way home.
There is no other area of our lives in which we are satisfi ed with thinking the way we did as children.