The Call to Discipleship in the Gospel of Mark, Day 57
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question. Mark 12:28-34What is the essence of faith? This is the challenge presented to Jesus, by a scribe who had heard the other challenges and debates with Jesus, and thought he answered well. He approaches Jesus and asks: "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus says: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.” So loving God is at the center of faith. A love that places God in everything you do and say. With every part of your being God is loved from your thoughts to your body, from your strength to your soul. And after love of God, the love of neighbor is next. So Jesus places the people we encounter daily as where we are to show God's love.
So how do you answer this question. Not now that you know what Jesus said to put at the center of our faith, but what do you actually place at the center of your faith and how does this shape how you act? Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins to save you and therefore saving others souls is becomes an imperative because there are life and death consequences to believing in Jesus as saviour. Do you believe the center of our faith is to go out into the world, baptizing and making disciples? Does this lead you out of your building and into your neighborhoods sharing faith with those you encounter? Do you believe the essence of faith is that God will never give you more than you can handle? Do you believe that when God has blessed you you will be blessed with money, family, job? Do you believe that the essence of faith is coming to church on Sunday morning and raising your kids to be faithful? Do you believe the essence of faith is to say the right words that makes Jesus your Lord and Saviour and acknowledges your sin? Do you believe your faith propels you out in the world to share compassion with the world?
But how does the center of your faith change is you take what Jesus says is the essence of faith to heart. How would this change how you live? If this is the heart of faith: why have we let other ideas become central to what we believe and how we act? When the scribe hears this he agreed and Jesus said to him you are not far from the kingdom. So to become a disciple is to put the love of God in all that you do? I am reminded of the Monks who spend their day saying the Jesus prayer with their every breath. To love God in everything we do. To be mindful of God when we wake and wash, when we cook and eat, when we work and play. Then when you have learned how to be mindful of God's presence in all we do and say, we are to act out of this love in the world? We are to heal the hurting, bind up the wounded, welcome the lost and lonely, free those who are held captive, fight evil, challenge authority with God's dream. This is not easy and there are times we will not love with our all. Sometimes we won't even like those we encounter that much. But with this commandment as our breath prayer we are forgiven and can begin again.
Today as you stop and reach for God. Let yourself say on your breath
"Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.”
Everyday by Dave Matthews