Loving God With Heart, Soul, and Strength

I sat for years under the leadership of Dr. and General H.D. McCarty at UBC in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Pastor McCarty had a profound understanding of the Tri-unity of all of life. HD could list a great number of triplets that impact our lives at every level – from heighth, depth, and width to being made in the image of God, with body, mind, and spirit (or heart, soul and strength). It truly is amazing how all of the created order reflects the nature and character of God.

With regard to our love for God, with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our strength, I think we all too often caught up in one, focusing inordinately upon it to the detriment of the others. Entire books are written on how spiritual maturity comes from studying the Bible (an academic or mind knowledge of God), that spiritual maturity comes from a spiritual relationship and prayer (a mystical/spiritual/soul knowledge of God), or that spiritual maturity comes from serving the poor and oppressed (a works-and obedience oriented/strength knowledge of God).

And these focuses can even be reflected in entire denominations and can help to explain their existence. One might say the Southern Baptists and other “conservatives” often focus on studying the Bible. Some charismatics or monastic groups may focus on prayer and spiritual experiences. Many monastics and groups that some might call “liberal” often focus on social justice issues.

But, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, as discussed in my last post from Hebrews 12:1-2, we realize that Jesus reflected all three of these paths and loves for God.

He clearly knew the scriptures. He quoted them to stand against Satan’s temptations in the desert. He taught them with authority – even at the age of 12 in the Temple He could discuss them cogently with the priests and teachers of the law.

He clearly had a deep, mystical relationship with the Father – praying constantly, through the night, groaning out to the Father in loud cries and tears, fasting and praying for days on end. He had no dichotomy between his spiritual life and his work life. It was all about constant submission to the Father, walking and talking with Him without fail.

He also had a great desire to right wrongs. He was anointed to preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from the darkness. He was often reported to have healed the sick, fed the poor, and care for the outcast of society.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus we see a complete gospel. When we fixate on what we find easy or to our liking/understanding then we water down the gospel and fail to follow God’s call on our lives. We fail the greatest commandment: loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, our souls, our strength; with all of our hearts, our souls, our minds; with every part of the tri-une image God breathed into our lives. We also find ourselves creating disunity not only in our own lives but in the Body of Christ as we trumpet the importance of one aspect of our relationship with the Father while discounting or completely neglecting the importance of other aspects.

Can we all recognize this? And can we recognize our need for all three? If so, can we not go to one another – to the ones who are perhaps “better” or at least more focused on one and learn from them, beginning to build relationships with one another and beginning to fulfill Christ’s prayer in John 17??? Oh, Lord, forgive us for our idolatry and our harlotry with the spirit of religion! May we repent and receive your forgiveness, resist the enemy and follow after You and You alone!

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