Luke 10:26-27 (CEV)
26 Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
27 The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’
The Scriptures Say
So as I alluded to yesterday, this question about ‘eternal life’ is meant as a bit of a trick question for Jesus. It’s a bit of a set-up.
And as Jesus often does, he takes the trick question and turns it back on the person asking him. “What must I do to have eternal life?” gets turned around to “what is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
Jesus doesn’t ignore the guy’s question. (He’s not duped by it, though, either.) He sees it for exactly what it is. But he seems to decide that it’s an important question for us to wrestle with, and he goes for it in the most personal way possible. He starts with this guy’s passion – scripture.
These experts in the Law of Moses have spent their lifetimes memorizing and thinking about and pulling apart the nittiest-grittiest bits of the law in an attempt to understand the world that they live in and the way in which they should operate.
It’s like Roy investigating the inner recesses of vacuum pumps, Trevor trying to pull apart some complicated computer science or math or physics, or Christina trying to understand the subtle nuances of starting a painting that’s going to have a white background with a red background instead, because it’s going to change the colour of the white.
So Jesus starts right where this guy is at. And the religious leader is ready for it. He’s studied. He’s figured out his answer, and he rattles it off with ease and speed. “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’”
There’s more to his answer, I know – we’re going to get to it tomorrow – but I want to pause on this part, first.
What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind?
What does this guy mean by it?
What do we mean by it when we say it?
What is Jesus thinking about when he hears this man or any of us utter these words?
I think it’s really interesting that Jesus asks the man about his special interest. I think maybe he does that for each of us in some way, and the reason is tucked in there with the guys answer. Love the Lord your God with all your heart … Not love the Lord your God exactly as your neighbour. Not love the Lord your God exactly like your friend. But love the Lord your God with all your heart …
The heart God made us with? That’s the heart we’re supposed to love God with.
The soul God made us with? The one that connects with nature or people or animals or God in unique, intriguing ways? That’s the soul we’re supposed to love God with.
The strength God made us with? It doesn’t matter whether it’s Greg and Kent’s strength that can (thankfully!) carry a washing machine and dryer down two flights of stairs for Redwood or whether it’s my strength limiting me to my bed most days for the past three months, this is the strength we’re supposed to love God with.
The mind God made us with? Whether it’s Jordan’s academic excellence pushing his communications students to learn critical thinking skills or Ryder’s three-year-old brain exploring and playing with his puppy, this is the mind we’re supposed to love God with.
We are so similar to each other in so many ways, but each of us carries something unique – unique challenges, unique skills, unique perspectives, unique experiences. And for some reason it is all of these unique elements, working together, that God wants us to love him with.
Often we’re tempted to silo ourselves. To decide that our strength is maybe good enough for God, but not our mind. Or our heart is what we’ll offer, but not our soul. Or we’re tempted to simply write ourselves off altogether – to try instead to bring an image of somebody else to God, because we’re worried that our heart or soul or strength or mind won’t be good enough.
But Jesus will tell us tomorrow that this is the answer. (At least, the first half of it.) That each of us is supposed to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength – all of these things working together, bringing all that God made us to be back to God from a place of love.
And when we start developing these ways of living with God, then we can turn to the second half of the guy’s answer and figure out what it means to live this life with each other.Journal Questions:
- What is unique and special and good about your heart? Your way of relating to yourself and to others? The way that you care and connect and feel?
- What is unique and special and good about your soul? Your way of seeing the world? The way you connect with and perceive and understand God?
- What is unique and special and good about your strength? The way you move and carry and function? The things your body allows you to do?
- What is unique and special and good about your mind? The way you ask questions? The things that fascinate you? The ways that you approach problems?
- What would it mean to love God with just your heart? Or just your soul? Or just your strength? Or just your mind?
- What would it mean to love God with all of these things – together?