Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
This passage includes a prayer known as the shema. It takes its name from the Hebrew term for “hear,” the first word of the prayer. The ancient Jewish community cherished this prayer and made it an essential part of their daily rhythm of life, repeating it every morning and evening. It became a way of framing their day—indeed, their entire lives.
Tangled up in the dynamic meaning of the word is not only a command but an assumed response to it. Hearing is only half of the relationship. Its counterpart is a response of obedience.
To hear and obey is the complete command. And to whom would Israel listen and respond? The Lord our God, who is described as being one. This means he is unique, the one and only true God. But he is also unified. He reigns over every broken and fractured aspect of our lives. This is disruptive in a time and place where the surrounding cultures have invented a different deity for every compartment of life. With this God, there are no tribal borders between the heart, mind, or strength. He is one Lord and Lord of all.
The truest way of delighting in the Lord is to obey him in our coming and going, at home and on the road, in our lying down and rising up, by impressing it on our hearts and heads and hands and expressing it through every word and deed. The only way to love the Lord our God is with our whole hearts, minds, and strength. Holiness is full surrender to the unrivaled reign of Jesus over every part of who we are. It is all of you delighting in all of him.
God who hears, teach us to attune our hearts to you. To not only hear but to respond in obedience. Lord who is one, help us to live a unified life, under the jurisdiction of your unrivaled reign.
What areas of your life are marked by a response of obedience? What areas are not?
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