“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:22-24)
Here we can see how closely doing, hearing and identity are linked. Sometimes we just need to be taken back to the basics – let’s hear what God’s saying and let’s do it.
In Mark 12:28, the Scribes ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is. That’s a big deal. Forget everything you already know about Christianity – this is an important question. Here’s what Jesus says:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.” (Mark 12:29-30)
This is the heart of the matter. Jesus says “Hear, O Israel” – this isn’t just listening to get information. It’s a posture of taking God so seriously that we’re listening with the intention of obeying. We’re not listening with the intention of massaging our thoughts so that we don’t get stressed out throughout the day, we’re not listening so that we can apply more theology or understanding or so that we can teach something. We’re listening because we have a relationship of love with God.
We have to learn to honour the written word of God. What Jesus says in the scriptures is really important. He says to the Pharisees: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
We don’t divorce the scripture from the relational activity and process of actually coming to the living God, coming to Jesus. But Jesus had a conversation with the Pharisees before: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46-47)
If we don’t believe what is written about Jesus, we won’t believe what Jesus is saying to us now. If we don’t believe the written word, we won’t believe the prophetic word. If we don’t honour what Jesus says in the bible, we don’t have a chance of following our Holy Spirit nudges and knowing where we’re going. We have to make it a priority to honour the written word of God.
So, what does it look like to love God with everything? For some of us, it looks like lots of people finding Jesus, for some of us it looks like people being reconciled and healed. For some of us, it looks like serving the poor. It’s important to love God with our souls, it’s that place where we delight and we’re satisfied, where we seek the glory of God. The heart – it’s the centre of our life, your heartbeat is the rhythm. There’s certain rhythms that I need in place in order to love God, like prayer, reading the scriptures, talking to people.
What do the next 48 hours of your life look like? It’s probably very routine, it could be very painful, could be exciting. It’s probably boring. I guarantee you’re going to waste some time in the next 48 hours. You’re probably going to do some things you regret. What would the next 48 hours look like, if you made it your priority to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”? What would you need to stop doing? What would you need to start doing? Who are you going to call? Where would you walk? Who would you spend time with?
Walking with God isn’t boring. You can read a scripture that you’ve read a thousand times and suddenly you see something that you never saw before, and God is like that. It’s as He reveals himself and as we seek him, that He shows you something brand new, but at the same time He’s the same God. There’s always something to pay attention to about God.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Following Jesus involves every aspect of your life. When you get up in the morning, when you lie back down, when you talk about it in the streets. It’s an all-embracing lifestyle of love and obedience. It has to impact the rhythm of your life. Whatever God says to us, however God speaks, we hear and then we work it out.