by Mike Herrnstein
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind, your whole being, and all your strength.” –Deuteronomy 6:4-5
This ancient prayer, better known as the Shema, has long intrigued me. Not only has it been recited twice daily for millennium, it was likely recited by Jesus, the twelve Apostles, and Paul; forming them from childhood into the covenant. Later, when asked what the two greatest commandments were, Jesus would cite this and its natural outflow, loving neighbor as thyself (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:29-31).
So what do we do with this? Let’s look at the different elements of the prayer:
The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! For me, this is an invitation. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus opens the way to take up our cross and follow Jesus into the loving eternal unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by the grace of God.
You must love the Lord your God with your whole mind… I tend to spend too much time here. But it’s helpful to imprint our beliefs with the cerebral to step out of our comfort zone and…love the Lord your God with your whole being (heart, soul, and body). This movement reminds me of the interactions I share with my men’s group and Bible study. After a quick prayer, we share our thoughts from the readings. Often the differences are subtle, but they are there. However, our unity is our love of Christ. At the end of our time together, we pray with each other, sharing our concerns and praises. It is at this point that our differences fade into the light of God’s love.
And finally: Love the Lord your God with your whole strength. We are all gifted with a portion of physical, emotional, and spiritual strength to partner with God to reveal His Kingdom. God bless our youth as they take that abundance of physical energy to serve God. It is inevitable as we grow older that we need God’s grace to grow in spiritual and emotional strength to amplify what physical strength we do have. All the parts in the body of Christ need to work together (1 Cor. 12:12-31). Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one…
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your invitation to be grafted into Your nation to reveal Your Kingdom in this world by pouring Your love upon the lives of our neighbors. Amen.