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Heart and Soul

Heart and Soul

One of my earliest musical recollections is my uncle playing the little piano song 'Heart and Soul'. Composed in the 1930's, and used in various films and pop songs over the years (most recently by the group Train, 'Play That Song'). I'm guessing, however, that most people didn't realise they were quoting Moses. 

In Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Moses presents Israel with a summary of what God wants from us: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart'.

The first foundation of a succesful relationship with God is to hear. God has spoken. Hearing involves an intentional engagement with the content provided by another. To hear someone is to step into their field of meaning, to take them at their own words. And the Hebrew word hear implies an obedient submission to what's being heard. Thus, to hear God is to embrace his perspective the construction of meaning he has given, all with an attitude of humility.

The second foundation is to recognise that the Lord our God, the Lord is one. That is, our God is God; He's not a wannabe  God, not a less than God with great aspirations. No: the Lord is God. But not only that, He is one: there is no other, and the true God who genuinely exists is marked by an intense unity. And in that unity, He is absolutely and utterly distinct from all else. Only God is uncreated; only the Lord is God, and God is one.

The third foundation is to love God with all of our hearts, soul, and might. Together, 'heart and soul' implies the totality of our being - mind, will, emotions, intellect, and might speaks to our energy. In other words, we're are to love God with the fullness of who we are.

Like in the children's game 'king of the hill', there is a mound to be protected in the Christian life, and it is this: loving God with all of our heart, soul and strength is the appropriate centre for the Christian life. It's our everything. 

Another way to say it is that in following Jesus, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is to love God with all our hearts.

The problem is that, like in king of the hill, there are forces trying to knock us off the happy land of loving God. In Deuternomy 6:10-14 Moses warns the people about material and spiritual forces that will try to knock them off centre, off of loving God, and turn their hearts to other things.

We are just like them: we face material, relational, emotional, and spiritual forces trying to knock us of God's love and get us to turn to other things. In an age of doubt, greed, skepticism, and materialism, how can we resist the spiritual onslaught against loving God? 

In his goodness, God gave the Israelits a key: 'Take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery' (Deuteronomy 6:12). The Israelites would stay faithful by remembering what God had done for them: he brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of bondage.

The key to loving God with all our hearts is to remember what God has done for us in Christ. The key to keeping the main thing the main thing is to remember the main thing God has done. And that is our salvation through Christ. This is the way the apostle John expresses it: 

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). In short: we love God best when we remember that he has has loved us most. He loved us so much he sent Jesus to save us from God's judgment against sin through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.

Heart and Soul. The first instruction Moses gave the people was to hear. The same thing is true today: we are invited to hear the love song God is singing through Christ. Like a duet, we are invited to join in and sing our part. The Father sings his line, declaring his great love towards us in Christ. Our response is to join in and sing along, loving him right back by remembering what he has done for us.

Loving God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. That's the main thing.