Summary: This is the fifth in a series I did on the Great Commandment from Mark 12.
September 29, 2002
Love…With Shoes On
A lawyer came to Jesus with a question, asking, in effect, “what is Priority One?” Over the course of the past several weeks, we have explored Jesus’ answer to that question, asking ourselves, in the process, whether or not the love we profess to have for God measures up. We have considered what it means to love God from the very depth of our being, from “Ground Zero” of our lives, as it were, our hearts. We have discussed what it means to love God with our souls, to develop a sincere passion for God. The psalmist graphically pictures this when he writes, in Psalm 42, “as the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you, O God!” Last week, we talked about the fact that Jesus calls us not to a faith that is long on emotion and absent serious thought, but to a love for God that entails the development and deployment of our minds in loving service to God. Today, we look at what it means to love God with our strength; would you stand and follow along with me as I read from Mark 12 this morning?
What prompts a young missionary to pack up all his belongings, including his wife and young children, and head off to a foreign field? What prompts that missionary to stay the course, to remain on the field, even though early on in his service, he would come to bury not only his young wife, but a child? What would carry him through that grief with a strong determination to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to a group of tribal people whom he had never met before, to live among them under the most primitive of conditions, to love them with Jesus’ love when they could hardly understand a word he said? I remember hearing, many years ago, a missionary tell this story of his wife’s grandfather, the man who had gone and endured such hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. What was his motivation? The best description came from a term that the tribe used themselves, a term that indicated that love that is real is love that acts; they called it “love with shoes on”. Love that gets beyond the “talking about it” stage, and gets busy loving God with actions. This is the love that prompts people to reach out to men they’ve never met before, men that society rejects, men who’ve been locked up for their crimes against humanity. “Love with shoes on” is loving God with our strength.
David Garland says that loving God with one’s “’strength’ refers to one’s physical capabilities, including one’s possessions.” In other words, it involves loving God in tangible ways, “with shoes on”, if you will. I want to speak today about four areas of such physical capabilities which I believe comprise loving God with our strength.
Areas of Loving God with All my Strength
I. Commitment of my physical body to the Lordship of Christ – I Corinthians 6
In I Corinthians, Paul is addressing a church that has gone off the deep end in a variety of ways. Parenthetically, I take a little bit of comfort in the book, because there are times that I despair that the 21st century American church is so far off the standard of Scripture. While I believe that that is too true in many ways, it is clear that even as early as several decades following the Day of Pentecost, here is a church which, while Paul refers to the believers as “brothers”, has nonetheless gotten way off base as well. If indeed there was hope for the church at Corinth—and obviously Paul feels that way to write the letter—then perhaps there is hope for us!
When we come to chapter 6, Paul is addressing the problem of sexual impurity. In the context of his urging them to avoid immorality, Paul makes this telling statement: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Do you notice that wording? Paul doesn’t merely give a negative: “stop sinning”. Rather, he gives it to us in a positive form, when he tells us that we can use our physical bodies to glorify God.
Now, to be sure, a part of glorifying God is by refraining from the use of our bodies in sexually immoral ways. Loving God with all my strength is more than refraining from sexual sin, but it is never less. And this is not easy living in the culture we live in today. Listen to these sobering words from Josh McDowell’s book Right From Wrong, quoting a survey done in the early 1990’s: