In our Deuteronomy reading today, we hit the bedrock of our faith – the declaration that “God is One God” and the instruction to “Love the Lord with all your heart, your soul and your might.” We are to treasure his truths in our hearts and keep them in our minds daily. This is the beginning of the Shema, the foundation of the Jewish faith – all other spiritual matters are based on this first principle.
And as Jesus reiterated in his teaching, the Shema principle remains as the first commandment of our Christian faith today as well (see Luke 10:27).
But how do we fulfil this commandment? In Luke 11, Jesus is interacting with the Pharisees – they are challenging him because he did not follow their edicts. In response, Jesus outlines ways that the spiritually informed should be living. He does not hold back from speaking difficult truths to these lawyers and leaders of his day, and the principles he teaches them are equally relevant to us today:
- have a pure heart before God, and your whole being will be clean;
- love God first, and the legal matters will take care of themselves;
- tithe from your heart, not according to legalistic rules;
- avoid seeking places/positions of prominence and the recognition of humans;
- speak against injustice, do not sit in mute consent;
- do not hinder those that seek wisdom and knowledge of God.
So, how do we fulfil the “Shema”? Today’s Luke reading gives us examples of how Jesus’ standard will look in our daily lives. I do have a strong love of God in my heart, but in life, I am personally challenged by these teachings of Jesus and find I fall short on many counts. Only by daily listening to his Spirit can we learn to think and speak and act as he instructs in a way that reflects loving the Lord with all our energies. Then we will receive the blessings promised to us in the Shema.
Grew up in South East Asia as a Missionary Kid, and continues to contribute to god’s work around the world