138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
I have been on staff at The Bible Chapel for over nine months now. At first glance, you may be thinking that this is no big deal; but for a 22-year-old, recently graduated, single man, this is an enormous deal. I have felt God’s calling to serve Him in vocational ministry for six years and spent the past four preparing and training at Bible college. Once I was offered my current position, you can imagine how elated I must have felt. I felt like Frodo at the end of The Lord of the Rings. I had pursued this great adventure, persevered through school, and met many lifelong friends along the way. I thought that becoming part of the staff was the end of a journey, but in reality, it was just the beginning.
One thing my first few months of being on staff at a church have taught me is how ill-disciplined I was. In my mind, I was riding on my high horse because I thought that I had reached the top of everything I had been pursuing for the past six years. However, now that I am here I realize just what it truly means to be a part of church leadership. It means being responsible for others, having people look to you to lead, and people expecting you to be intimate with God. That final thought is what I want to share with you. It is my prayer that after reading this, you and many others will feel encouraged and be spurred on to pursue a deeper, richer relationship with Jesus than you had in 2018.
As Christians, we want a deeper relationship with our Savior; but undoubtedly, before January ends you will have faced something that you weren’t expecting to occur so soon, or maybe what you were facing last year has just carried over to this year - like student loans. I believe our King has shared with us how we can be in a more intimate relationship with our Creator, and it is found in Mark 12:30 when Jesus says, “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.” My prayer for this new year is that we, as sinners redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, would live our lives according to this verse.
The first thing that stands out to us is the call to love God with all of our hearts. The heart, according to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, is the “center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans.” Proverbs 23:7a (KJV) says that, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The heart is the beginning place for us to live our lives in a richer relationship with Christ. The heart is the root of our problem because of our sin, which is why this is the place that God does His work on the individual.
The heart is the very heartbeat of not just our physical life, but our spiritual.
The second thing we should see is that our call to love God involves our souls and our minds. In both the Hebrew and Greek, the term for soul carries primarily non-physical connotations. Jesus made this point in Matthew 10:28 when he said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” We must, therefore, make the distinction that when it comes to loving God with all our soul and mind that it is a different layer than just the physical. Just because we are physically in church or a Bible study does not mean that our whole being is engaged with the Lord. We, as a part of God’s creation, experience something deep and rich when our souls and minds are fully engaged in what the Lord is doing in our lives and when we come together for corporate worship. Furthermore, our souls are easily more engaged when our minds are fixated on the things of heaven, as Paul tells us in Colossians 3:2. Likewise, we are each urged in Romans 12:2 to renew our mind, which brings true life transformation.
Lastly, we come to loving God with all of our strength. In our culture, the word “strength” conjures up images of someone with muscles upon muscles ripping phonebooks in half with their bare hands. For the Hebrews, however, the word for strength took on a very different meaning. In the Shema, which is a confession of faith where the Hebrews acknowledged the one true God and His commandments for them, the word for strength is ME’OD, which means very, or much. So, if we are called to love God with all of our strength, then we are to love God with everything. It is to say that we are to love God with our total capacity. It means devoting every opportunity and every possibility to loving God and others.
The point of loving God with all of our strength is that everything in our lives offers us a chance to love the One who made us.
This aspect of what Jesus said in Mark 12 should spur us on to give everything we have in our love for God and to show that same love to others.
This may have been a lengthy way for me to say what I believe we should all aspire to in 2019. Jesus’ words in Mark 12:30 reveal that if we are to love God, then we ought to love Him with our entire being - our physical actions, our souls’ desires, our thoughts, and our lives. God has created us to be in deep relationship with Him. It is my prayer that we pursue this relationship with all of our being and that we are moved to show this kind of love to those in our lives. Grace and Peace.