When we as church planters are thinking about how to engage with God’s people to come alongside us to live in missional community, there’s a lot of hard work that we are often asking them to participate in.
If we don’t know how to address proper work and the art of “doing”, then we run the risk of one of two extremes: we feel bad asking of fellow workers so we end up doing all the work ourselves at the risk of being burnt out. Or, we push and guilt others into a performance driven work culture so that they end up being burnt out. But, when Jesus talks about work, He links it to loving God in specific way.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord 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 mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him.And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. ~ Mark 12:28-34
Taking ownership revolves around whether or not Jesus would say to you as He did to the scribe, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And would He say this to you because of how you love God? Jesus says that loving God is the most important thing, and you might agree with me that, especially in the Church, we toss this mantra around, “Love God, love people” over and over again, but do we know what that means, or more importantly, what that looks like in real life?
God’s people, when He first established the Israelites, were given the most important command, the Shema, and it was so important that they recited it in the morning and in the evening of every day. It encapsulated the centerpiece of what they believed.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9
It wasn’t enough to just have it stick on some philosophical “heart”, but that it was to be diligently, effortfully taught to the next generation. Our conversations are supposed to be centered around it whether we’re at home or in transit or in the midst of life. The first and last thing we focus on in the day was this, and that we would have reminders of it all over the daily vestiges of life.
Loving God was the centerpiece of what they believed and this was how God Himself was marking and demarcating His people. And the great thing about God is that He doesn’t make it nebulous; in fact, He tells us exactly the manner in which to love God.
Loving God means to love Him with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your might.
Might has a lot to do with how we love God through our “doing”, through our work. It becomes a way to personally connect with God and worship Him.
The Hebrew word מְאֹד in the Shema is translated as strength or might, but again, these words don’t capture the essence of its meaning.
A better but not so real word is “very-ness” or what makes up the “weight” of who you are. It includes everything else apart from the heart, soul and mind. Everything else about you that’s not your will and devotion, your seat of emotion and passion, nor your thoughts and thinking process.
It’s your physical body, all of your resources and finances and possessions, your capacities, your relationships, your talents and skills, and unique personality. The rest of what makes you, you is what God wants you to love Him with.
And again, we respond to this call often in one of two ways: we either choose to keep our might to ourselves because it’s our proprietary right and gain, or, we keep our might to ourselves because we’re ashamed of it and see no value in it.
“I tithe, haven’t I paid my dues?”
“I serve at Church, isn’t that enough?”
“I hang out with other Christians, what more does He want?”
“I can barely make ends meet; what can I give?”
“I have no skills – I’m not good with people and I’m not smart enough – I don’t think God can use me.”
“I’m not funny or good looking enough for people to want to be with me.”
No one really says any of these things out loud, per se, but everyone thinks them inside their brains, all the time. It’s either you feel as though you have every right to everything you have because you worked so hard to achieve them or because it’s just rightfully yours to keep and have full say in what you will do with it, or, you feel as though you have nothing to offer, so you just hide away and keep to yourself.
Loving God with all your might means something entirely different. It means that out of your full devotion to Him, you live in a manner where everything that you have is entirely His. God gets full access to everything. Your job is simple. You keep good care of them. You invest and not squander. You maintain and upkeep instead of letting them get rusty. You steward them to your best ability so that when one part of your might gets called up, it’s ready. You steward your time in a way where God can inconvenience you at any moment and divert your attention to someone or something else. You steward your finances in a way where God can tell you to give a distinct amount to this person or this organization or invest in this new business because it’s going to expand His Kingdom in a certain way.
God may call your number on your athleticism. Think of Samson. He may call your number on your beauty. Remember Esther? He may use your voice? Um, King David, anyone? You steward your relationships in a way where God gets full access to your roladex – your mom, His. Your best friend, His. Your co-workers and networking partners in your industry – all His. Your kids and your spouse – His and His. Nothing gets in the way of your love for God and all things are used to love God.
Do you love God with all your might in this manner? It’s something to ask of our people, as we begin our missional communities together.
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