Summary: What is the most important thing in the universe? The answer might surprise you but goes right to the heart of both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus reveals it to us in Mark 12 as we go in depth into loving God.
During the course of a heated debate between Jesus and the religious leaders, something happens that is like an oasis in the midst of the desert. A scribe approaches the group as the Sadducees are trying to trip Jesus up with some theological argument coming out of their misinterpretation of the Scriptures. It got this guy to thinking—what are the most important parts of the Bible (as they knew it). It was a genuine question that got a genuine response from Jesus.
The religious leaders often debated what among the hundreds of rules and regulations, plus the Scriptures, was the most important. Jesus’ answer cut right to the heart of God—which is relationship. He quotes first what is known as the “Shema” (which comes from the Hebrew words “Hear (O) Israel”). The declaration that God is One set Judaism apart from pretty much every other religion which had multiple gods.
You cannot begin to understand a relationship with God unless you understand this point: there is only one God. What matters is not rules and regulations and which one is most important; what matters is relationship with the One true and only God.
Then Jesus gives His two part answer—love God, love others. It’s a summation of the Ten Commandments which are broken into two groups: faithful relationship with God, faithful relationship with others.
So it all revolves around a relationship—but a certain kind of relationship—that of love. The word used here is agapeo which means a certain kind of love—a selfless, giving love. Verse 30 gives us an idea of the kind of love and the depth of that love relationship with God.
Jesus tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So what does that look like? What does it mean to love God with all of you?
First, let’s look at the words used here in the Greek:
Heart: kardia – the middle, thoughts or feelings.
Soul: psyche breath, spirit.
Mind: dianoia, deep thought, imagination, mind, understanding.
Strength: ischys, power, strength, ability.
In looking at the words used in the Greek, and thinking about out makeup as humans I would suggest that the Lord is talking about your whole being from the inside to the outside. These four things represent your
Thoughts and feelings (mind)
and Will (strength).
Your values are the deepest held beliefs about yourself and the universe around you. These values then influence your thoughts and feelings, which result in your character—the thing that makes you you. Your will is the outward expression of your character. It is the things you say and do. God wants us to bring all of those things into a love relationship with Him, and then take that same love and pour it out into the lives of others. So in understanding this, first let’s look at what it means to love someone.
They occupy your thoughts often.
They have tremendous worth to you.
You desire strongly spend time with them and don’t feel complete when apart.
You don’t want to do things that will hurt them.
You look out for ways to bless, please or help them, even if that means to your detriment. You want the best for them.
You partner with them, and submit to them.
You trust them completely, even when they do things you don’t understand.
You attune to them (meaning you are so focused on them that you pick up on the nuances of how they are feeling at a given time) – it means you “get” them.
You connect with them, bond with them—and as the level of intimacy increases you can’t imagine life without them. You place your life in their hands.
You love them without condition.
So here are the common words used here: listen, focus, worth, desire their presence, bless not hurt, partner, submit, trust, connect, bond.
Now think about your decisions, your thoughts, your desires, your core personality—and think of what it means to love God with these by focusing on the above parts of love. We can’t do this on our own, by the way. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Let’s look at some ways to love God:
Your heart (core values)
Is a relationship with Him the ultimate focus of your life?
Does He take first place?
Do you desire for His values to be overlaid on your life, or do you overlay your values onto God?
Your mind (thought life and emotions)
Do you allow God access to your thoughts? (Psalms 139:23-24)
Do you think often about God and His character? (Philippians 4:8-9)
Do you want your thoughts taken captive to obey how Jesus thinks (submitted to Him)? (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Are you attuned to God—listening actively for Him speaking His values to your mind?