When the call of God on our lives and the message for us in Scripture is distilled into one line it reads like this: “Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” This was the central command of Old Testament Judaism (Dt.6:5) and it was the primary imperative of the one whose name we bear (Mt.22:37). But when that clear and forthright standard is held up for comparison with modern Christianity, it seems that only a few are focused on this goal. It appears to be a paltry and seemingly “fanatical” minority among us, who would even name this central biblical command as a part of their life’s mission or current goals.
But before we call this folk fanatical, remember that the responsibility to love God with all that we are cannot be erased or minimized under the guise of New Covenant grace. When some claim we are unfettered from this calling because we are “not under the law” they fail to realize the promised effects of grace. Jesus said when we have been forgiven much we love much (Lk.7:42-47). Grace doesn’t free us from the obligation to love God with all of our hearts, it is the fuel for doing so. The Apostle John penned an entire New Testament book based on the proposition that loving God is the sign of those who are actual participants in the grace of God (1 John). Lastly, it is important to note that this supreme love is not meant for the “god” of our choosing.
Seeking to fulfill the primary biblical calling must be aimed at the only God who is – the God of the Bible. As John clarifies, this love will be measured by an honesty about our transgressions of his holiness (1Jn.1:8, 10) and our resolve and growing consistency in keeping his commands (1Jn.3). He exhorts his readers, “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1Jn.5:3). So the next time someone asks you about the goals for your life or the plans for the year, be sure and respond with the fundamental Christian calling, “I am planning to love God with all of my heart, with all of my soul and with all of my strength!”