Summary: When Jesus said that we need to love Him (God) with our heart, soul, mind and strength what did He mean? These were not ambiguous terms He used just to fill up space but a trinity of ways to love God with an exclamation point of strength!
Last week we talked about the question, “Is there life after death?” And, we took a look at what the world has to say about the subject and what the Word, the Bible has to say about it.
And, it was great for us to have our daughter, Janelle, and her family here with us. Later after they had gone home I asked Pastor Karenlee if Janelle had made any observations about the service. She said that she really enjoyed the worship but that the sermon seemed more like a lecture than a sermon. This is a sentiment that
I believe some of you have tried to convey to me as well.
Anyway, this caused me to re-reflect on how I develop and deliver my messages from God’s and as I pondered on my preaching I started thinking about the dimensions involved with God’s Word.
“(Jesus) replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”
And, the account in Mark 12:30 (NIV) adds the word strength,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
These seem to me to be the targets of preaching. These form the whole out of which everything flows.
Here we’ve got three arrows pointing to “the Lord your God”; heart, soul, mind and the measure of intensity, “all your strength”.
Has this ever happened to you? You send someone to pick up a pizza and when they get back from the pizza joint one of the pieces is missing? They claim that it was never there and one of the workers at the pizza joint must have eaten it. However, the tomato sauce in the corner of the pick up person’s mouth gives it away. The pizza’s not whole, it’s just not the same.
Or, you are putting a 1,000 piece puzzle together and you get to the very last two pieces and you realize that there is only one piece to fill those last two holes. It will never work. All of those hours of painstaking labor for nothing. One piece missing ruins it all!
Now, here’s the thing. A sermon missing any one of these elements is incomplete and will be less effective than it should be. All of these elements must be complete for a good sermon and I may be unbalanced toward one of these elements.
But, you see, it’s not just me. It’s you, too! If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are a preacher, too. You are a preacher in your life, you are a preacher in your actions, you are a preacher in your speech, you are a preacher in your emotions. So, Karenlee and I as your pastors need to have this all together and you all as followers of Jesus need to have it all together as well.
But with loving the Lord your God there is a trinity; heart, soul and mind.
First we’ll take a look at the heart. Emotion. What does that have to do with preaching and living a balanced life as a Jesus follower?
When it comes to preaching the sermon may be full of Biblical and historical facts and figures and yet be bone dry.
On the other hand a sermon may be filled with hilarious jokes and/or tear jerking stories which lead to huge emotional swings without containing any Biblical truths. The first is a lecture and the second is entertainment or emotional manipulation. Neither is preaching and neither would make an effective witness for the Lord.
So, we need to determine why emotion is essential to good preaching, good witnessing and living for Jesus!
Just why is the emotional, heart aspect of our love relationship with Jesus is essential!
In the old days preaching used to include acting to some measure.
I remember my Great Grandmother Mary Elizabeth telling about finding some notes from an evangelist that had been carried by the breeze out the window of a small country church and on one of the pages there was a note in the margin to “cry here”.
The famous old-time preacher was speaking to a class of preachers and telling them that when they speak of heaven their faces should reflect the joy of heaven with a smile. However, he told them when speaking of hell their ordinary face would do!
Now, we’re not talking about contrived emotions but genuine emotions that come from knowing the Lord our God.
Psalm 28:7 (NIV)
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”