Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mark 12:30-31 -- On Specifics and Priorities

"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:30-31

In these verses Christ is talking to a scribe, who asks him a sincere question.  The verses after this are the scribe agreeing with him, and paraphrasing this, which is cool too.  For instance Christ says here that we should love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength.  The heart, understanding, soul, and strength.  Different order, slightly different wording, but the same truth.  I think that is one of the reasons that we go to church and that we study the gospel... so we can get different perspectives on the gospel, and hear different stories and sometimes different words, all of them agreeing about the gospel and the truth.  The reason that this struck me today I think is that the lesson was repeated twice with slightly different words, and it made me consider it in a different way.  Not just the generic "love God with everything you are," which is of course a good lesson, but love him in some specific ways.
Loving God with our hearts gives our love a physical aspect... a beating heart seems to be symbolic of living our lives for him, every moment, every heartbeat.
Loving God with our souls gives our love a spiritual and emotional aspect.  We love him even subconsciously, in the way that we feel about things and well beyond words.
Loving God with our minds shows that we should be mentally engaged with the Gospel, learning to understand and embrace the meaning and symbolism and depth of the scriptures and the gospel, never fearful that God won't stand up to scrutiny, but enjoying the discovery of how well God has put the universe together. :)
Loving God with all of our strength is physical too, but more externally than the heart... showing that all of our actions can be devoted to God, and that we will love God with the last of our strength, and uphold his purposes always.
The first commandment is first for a reason.  We get mixed up sometimes and we think that we've outlasted God or something.  We start thinking, well, if God isn't going to help me after all this time, or if he can tolerate this much suffering, or God would never allow this level of... whatever.  And we place limits on it, like God is only true up to this point, but if it goes over he suddenly isn't.  If I'm not married by 30, or if my husband cheats on me, or if he allowed my family member to die, or if God could allow mass murder or rape or child molestation ... or if God didn't appear to me and prove himself by this point... and thousands upon thousands of other things.  And I'll tell you right now, God doesn't enjoy bad things happening to us, and he's not trying to torture us.  But this is the world, and free agency, and our classroom.  We can't put limits about what we will and will not tolerate on God.  Instead, *we* agree to tolerate whatever comes in his name.  First, and always, we love God.  Secondly, we love other people and ourselves.  And if we can get those two down, it encompasses all the rest.  God is the teacher and the leader and the light and our Savior.  He's the coach and the parent and the hero.  He is everything that we can look up to and everything that makes live better and more joyful.  Let's get our priorities straight, so that he can help us overcome ourselves and our weaknesses, and learn to be better and more loving and accepting and good to others as well.

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