May 16, 2011

Deuteronomy 6:5, part 2

You shall love the LORD your God with all your soul. We try to satisfy our desires with all kinds of things. C.S. Lewis once wrote that the problem with our Christianity is not that God finds our desires too strong, but too weak. He said basically that we would rather fool around with drugs and alcohol and food and sex instead of finding the all-satisfying fulfillment of our souls in Christ. He equates it to being offered a vacation at the beach but turning it down because we’d rather play in a mud puddle in our backyard. We would rather have the immediate gratification of temporal, felt needs rather than the ultimate satisfaction of fellowship with Christ. Jesus talked about this in John 4. He went to Jacob’s well and saw a Samaritan woman. Jesus asked her for a drink of water which was completely inappropriate in the culture. Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another. So she asked, “Who are you?” Jesus, “If you knew who I was you’d be asking me for a drink of living water. You drink my water and you won’t ever thirst again.” Jesus is the only one that can fully satisfy the longings in our heart and soul. Jesus is the only one that is strong enough to overcome our desire for sin.

Your soul is thirsty. My soul is thirsty. There is a book titled Soul Searching that came out a few years ago, and the basic premise of the book is that teenagers are constantly seeking to satisfy a longing in their souls, and they are filling it up with drugs, sex, and grandpa god – a god that basically could be summed up as this pie-in-the sky old man that just wants you to be happy and healthy. That is not the God of the Bible. Yes, he wants you to be happy, but he wants you to be happy in him forever! Not in his things, not in his blessings, and not in your health. He wants your soul to find it’s true satisfaction only in him! Nothing is going to bring satisfaction to their sinful, guilty, aching hearts besides God. I love what John Piper says about satisfying our soul: The pursuit of our soul’s satisfaction – our joy and delight and happiness – is not sin. Sin is the exact opposite: pursuing happiness where no lasting happiness can be found…Sin is trying to quench our unquenchable soul-thirst anywhere but in God.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your might. I take this to mean that there is an intentional effort. When you are utilizing all your might to accomplish something what else can you think about at that moment? If you’re power-lifting and you’re on your last set are you half-way thinking about getting the bar up, or making sure your knees don’t lock? No! You’re committed! You cannot think of anything else. Your whole attention is focused on that one task. Moses was basically saying to apply all of your might, all of your attention on your love for God.

This complete, utter infatuation with God stands in stark contrast to complete and utter infatuation with ourselves. Jesus told us that anyone who comes after him must take up his cross and follow. He must daily die to himself. Anyone who follows Christ must be willing to give up his own life because anyone who desires to keep his life, in other words loves himself, will lose his life, and anyone who loses his life for Christ’s sake will find it.

May 10, 2011

Deuteronomy 6:5

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. 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 might. 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. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full, then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:1-12)

The book of Deuteronomy is an interesting book. It begins with Moses recounting the wilderness journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, and ends with someone else completing the story as we watch Moses pass away before our very eyes. In the meantime, Moses reminds the Israelites of all that God has done from the beginning of their journey through where they have come to this point, and then admonishes them to "be careful and do" all that he is reminding them of.

In chapter one Moses recounts the Israelite’s rebellion and refusal to enter the land that God had promised to them. Chapter two tells of the subsequent wilderness that Israel was forced to wander for a generation. However, chapter two and three also talk about God preparing his people for entry in to the Promised Land and God’s provision. This is summed up in 3:18 And I commanded you at that time, saying “The LORD your God has given you this land to possess.” God had already provided the land. He defeated the inhabitants. All Israel had to do was obey and go in.

Chapters four and five describe the standard of holiness God requires. Moses warns to them to “diligently keep their souls” and then in chapter five brings to mind the Ten Commandments. So that brings us to chapter six. Verses one through three Moses again commands them to obey and be careful to do so, but then comes 4-5. I wonder if Moses felt like he was losing the crowd. I wonder if he looked out and saw the bewilderment/defeat on their faces. “Moses, come on dude! We can’t do all this!” So he sums it up for them. “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 might.”

This verse is basically the hinge verse in Deuteronomy. It is the verse that connects everything that precedes it with everything that follows. We looked at an overview of the chapters that preceded it, and the only correct response to the God who brought them out of Egypt, as Moses reminded them repeatedly, is love him with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

What do you love?

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart. That means that you will not love anything more than you love God. This is a reinforcement of the first commandment “You shall have no other gods before me.” We love a lot of things. I love football. I love hockey. I love baseball. I love my wife and my son. But above all else, I am to love the LORD my God. The truth that God’s glory and our joy in God are one radically undermines modern views of self-centered love. God-centered grace nullifies the gospel of self-esteem.