When asked to to reveal the most important thing — the one path to live by, Jesus recited from the first part of the Shema, the ancient prayer of the Judeo-Christian faith, from Deuteronomy 6:
“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 12:30
If you want the truth, all tidy and small, Christ says, I want it all.
Feelings, will, thoughts and body. No part of you unowned by, undevoted to, unfocused on Me.
Paul echoes this theme in Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to the elemental spirits of this world and not according to Christ.
Don’t be the plunder of this world, he says, a slave to its every whim and fear and fickle idea of who you are and what you should become.
Be captive according to Christ, Paul says — know that you are His treasured spoil of war. Jesus descended into time and space to wrestle you away from the enemy and call you His own. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God (Romans 6:22). You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men (I Corinthians 7:23).
But we forget, we wander. We offer ourselves up as slaves to all kinds of lovers and memories, because sometimes we don’t feel owned by God.
We feel orphaned.
We don’t feel good, feel glory, feel God with us.
But Christ, our Savior and Master, is pursuing us on more than one front — warring for more than just our emotions. The Shema (which means Hear! Listen!) calls out a secret map to all the battlefields where He fights for his treasured possession:
Heart and mind, soul and strength.
We expect to find Him standing fast in our hearts, slaying bad feelings and stirring up passion and love for Him — for this Christ-life.
Sometimes, yes. But sometimes, the war wages elsewhere.
When we don’t feel God, we can find Him fighting on a different front.
He fights for the mind, in seasons where all we can do is cling to the Word of Truth — to the fact that He loves us instead of the feeling. He drags out old lies and unveils old thoughts and replaces them with new truth, writing it on the walls of our reason before it can be written on our hearts.
He fights for the body, in times when we struggle with sins of the flesh or simply the flesh itself, overwhelmed by illness or injury or exhaustion. He peels away our strength so we will learn to trust Him instead of our own physical will or power.
He fights for the soul — our very life — all of the ways we are and have been. He carves Himself into all the regular and worn paths that make up our days, calling us to find Him in the routine, the basic, the everyday. If we can see Him there, He knows, we can see Him everywhere.
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.
You shall. You are owned, a treasured possession, and your love for Him will grow. He is in the battle to make certain it is so.
Find out where He’s fighting for you, and join Him.