We all remember from as early as Sabbath school to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It can be a challenge, but it’s one Christians practice daily in their walks with God. However, many overlook the command just before this one, in Mark, when Jesus says to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is a sweeping mandate. How does one actually love God with heart, soul, and strength, even in times of anger or despair?
It’s humanly impossible for even the most dedicated and faithful individuals on earth to follow this mandate completely throughout life. That does not mean it’s not worth striving for. Following these commands to love God with everything we have means putting our trust in Christ and continually asking for understanding, guidance, and strength. Knowing God is the first step, but it’s not enough. This one passage encompasses the entire reason faith is a lifelong journey.
Going to church, studying the Bible, praying, and having conversations with other Christians are only part of the answer. Our thoughts, motivations, and feelings, along with the intensity of those characteristics, must also be routinely evaluatedand redirected. It’s the culmination of all of these combined with outward actions of compassion that demonstrate our love of God with all of our minds, bodies, and souls.
The Story of Job
The story of Job imparts much wisdom to the Christian directive to love God with everything we have. When Job is afflicted with pain and suffering after living a seemingly righteous life, he can be interpreted as a patient sufferer even in the midst of unrighteous circumstances. Today, we often hear of Christian persecution in the Middle East. These individuals have often followed a calling to bring more followers to Christ and have risked their lives to do so. In the stories related on the media, many are incarcerated and die for their beliefs.
While you may never have to undergo extreme circumstances like Job, understanding his fortitude in times of strife may be helpful in framing your current trials and tribulations. Are there times when you feel forsaken by God and don’t understand His purpose? Like all of us who struggle for understanding, God’s point and purpose may not seem clear today, tomorrow, or in this life.
In your search for loving God with all your being, pray for patience and clarity every day. For many, unwavering faith is not like a light-switch, but more like practicing for a marathon. Unless you train consistently and mold your thoughts, feelings, and actions with positive influences, you may not be able to make it through the last part of the race.
Are you looking for that missing piece in your life? Embracing Christ as your savior and starting to train for the greatest marathon in life will be the most rewarding experience you can have. St. Peter’s Church and World Outreach Center welcomes anyone looking for answers. Together we can help one another build a strong love for God that will carry us through the good times and the bad.