Thursday, February 24, 2011
With All Your Soul
"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul..." -Matthew 22:37
In my last blog I talked about loving God with all our hearts- the emotional core of who we are. God delights in us pouring out our emotions to Him in worship and prayer. He created us to be emotional beings and wants to connect with us on an emotional level. When we open our hearts in communion with Him, He will begin to change our emotions and passions to look more like His own. Our heart becomes His. That is the ultimate gift of love to our Father.
Next, Jesus commands us to love God with all our soul. So what is our soul? We know it is the eternal part of our being- the essence of who we are that will live on in eternity after our bodies have entered their earthly grave. But what elements of our person does our soul encompass? Well, based on the other things Jesus commanded us to love God with (our heart, mind, strength) we know it isn't our emotions, thoughts, or physical action. So what is left?
I believe this coincides with the story of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter ten. Mary and Martha were sisters. They lived together and just happened to be hosting Jesus Christ in their home (can you imagine the pressure?!) as he taught his followers. Martha gave into the pressure of performance. She felt she needed to have everything just right in order to please the Lord. But Mary, who seemed to be sitting lazily at the feet of Jesus, was the one who was commended for her actions. Jesus said:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42
Jesus clearly says in this passage that Mary chose the better thing- just being in the presence of God. She gave him her time and attention and laid her priorities down to just be. We can pour out our hearts in worship to Jesus. We can know the Word and teach it to others. We can live a life that shines His light. But if we don't take time just to be, we have missed what Jesus calls the "one thing" that is really needed.
Loving God with our soul takes us to a deeper spiritual place than anything else. It requires us to remember that we are, in essence, spiritual beings wrapped in human bodies. We were made for something more. Yet often we allow our humanity to determine our spirituality, rather than the other way around. When we connect with God on His level- in spirit- and release ourself from the confines of humanity, we can experience His presence in a more powerful way than ever before.
This might sound tricky or mystical, but really all it means is just allowing ourselves to be in the presence of God with no agenda, no hidden motives, and no reservations. It means being real, open, and vulnerable before the God of Creation. Loving God with all our soul means giving God the opportunity to meet with and know us at the deepest point of who we are. More than anything, God desires to know us and for us to know Him. So when we make time to just be in His presence and commune with Him, we are giving ourselves- our souls- as a love offering to Him.
As a parent, I love just being with my daughters. They don't have to do anything in particular to make me enjoy my time with them. I just love the privilege of knowing them and being involved in their lives. The conversations we have, the games we play, the shows they put on- it all brings me joy just because we are together, and they are just being their precious little selves. I know as they get older they won't want to spend as much time with their mom, so I try to enjoy every moment I can. Every hug, every giggle, every smile.
God is much the same way. He revels in just being with us. He loves our quirks, and the things that make us uniquely us. After all, He made us that way! So when we take time just to be with Him, unhindered and vulerable, it is one of the greatest things we can give Him. He aches just to know us and have us know Him. When we do that, we fulfill His greatest desire and our greatest need.
Loving God with all our soul is really one of the easiest ways to love Him, but one of the hardest things to do. We can get so caught up in the demands of life, including "doing good", that we neglect to make time just to be in the presence of God. When all is said and done and we enter the eternity that we were created for, being in God's presence is one of the main things we will do! Our life on earth is just preparation for eternity. If we truly want to love God "with all", we must give Him what He truly desires more than anything else:
"You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." -Psalm 16:11