This Monday School is different. I was so encouraged this week that I wanted to pass it on. I hope you are encouraged as well. The words of Jesus and the story I refer to are found in Mark 12:28-34 and Numbers 13 and 14.
How Do I Do That?
Ten or so years ago, I was captivated anew by the words of Jesus in Mark 12:30-32, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” I’d read those words of Jesus so many times before and wondered how it could ever be. How do I love God this way? It seemed impossible. Even more impossible than loving others. I asked God to help me love him with my whole self and to let me help others do the same.
Early in my walk with Jesus (in my twenties), the story of Joshua and Caleb moved me in a powerful way. Their story is the one about the twelve spies sent into the Promised Land by Moses. God said of Caleb, “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” (Numbers 14:24 NIV) The wholeheartedness of Caleb makes me think of the words of Jesus in Mark 12. I prayed for God to give me a wholehearted devotion to him. I struggled to understand how to do this. Not only because of my own failures, but because of the disparity I saw between what many Christians say they believe and how they live.
It Is Supernatural
Then ten or so years ago, I understood for the first time that the words in Mark 12:30-32 are not only commands; they are promises. We will love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. This is the goal of spiritual formation or the more familiar term, discipleship. It is impossible on our own but we are not on our own. He is with us always. This is not a passive life though. Just as the Israelites had to conquer the Promised Land, we have an active role in our spiritual growth. Ours is an interactive relationship with God, an active pursuit of Jesus and his ways. And when we fail, we try again, and again, and again. He is a loving Father, with arms wide open always ready to embrace us.
Now I am in graduate school learning about a working model Dallas Willard taught using the very words that captivated me years ago. I’m in seminary learning about the deepest questions and thoughts I could never articulate. I am humbled and grateful. All I can think is, “what are mere mortals, that you concern yourself with them; humans, that you watch over them with such care?” (Psalm 8:4 CJB)
I felt God’s care this week and I am thankful.