by guest author Pastor Jason Parker
Q. What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind?
A. When Israel stood poised to enter the Promised Land, Moses called upon the people to reaffirm their covenant relationship with the Lord. Out of sheer love and grace, the Lord had brought Israel out of bondage in Egypt and entered into covenant with her at Mt. Sinai.
Now, in Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses set forward Israel’s pledge of allegiance to the one true God. In that context of complete and exclusive loyalty comes the great command of Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
When we affirm that the Lord alone is our God, this demands a wholehearted commitment of love to Him. Love, as it is used here, is not only an emotion, but a commitment to give ourselves for the best interest of another.
In this context of a covenant relationship of an inferior to a superior, namely, man’s relationship to God, love means to seek to serve and obey God, to honor Him, to seek to carry out His desires. It is a sincere affection and heartfelt loyalty which seeks union and communion with the Lord by walking in His ways.
This personal response of allegiance is total, including heart, soul, and strength. Heart, soul, and strength are concepts that move from the innermost parts of our being – our heart, which is our control center, the source of our thoughts, desires, ambitions, hopes, and dreams – to the outermost reaches of everything we possess – our strength.
There is no room for apathy in any area of life. We must be on an intentional quest to bring our entire being to conform with our confession: the Lord alone is our God. Absolute allegiance to God requires that we love Him with all that we are and have.
This kind of allegiance cannot help but show itself in what we do. Love leads to obedience. So we should ask, “What will the practice of absolute allegiance to the one true God look like? Am I serving God with everything I am and have?
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 shows us what the practice of allegiance to the one true God looks like. It compels a personal commitment to internalize God’s Word, a family commitment to perpetuate God’s Word, and a public commitment to make God’s Word rule all of life.
But that’s not all. You see, our love is a response to God’s love, and God was not done revealing His love. When God gave His only Son, the splendor and power and holiness and beauty of His love became evident like never before. Jesus revealed to us the eternal love within the Triune God and called us to participate in it.
In the second half of John’s Gospel, Jesus showed us what it means to love the Lord in truth. Let’s just touch on some of what Jesus showed us. In John 13, we read that Jesus loved His own to the end, and He demonstrated this love by setting an example of washing their feet, including even His enemy Judas’ feet. This action set up His new commandment to “love one another just as I have loved you” (vs. 34).
As Jesus continued His farewell discourse before going to the cross, He revealed that through His love, His disciples were being taken up into the loving relationship of God the Father and God the Son (John 15:9). His followers were to remain in His love as they obeyed His commands (15:10). The greatest expression of this love is to lay down one’s life for his friends (15:13), which Jesus would do shortly in a supreme way, but His followers were also called to do.
When Jesus prayed His high priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus tied the love of the Father and the Son and believers to the mission that the Father sent the Son to accomplish. “I in them and you in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me” (John 17:23).
Jesus also prayed, “I made known to them Your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). The unity of Christ’s people in love is essential to glorifying our Triune God in the world.
Q. Children need to see what real love for God looks like. How can parents live it out before their children?
A. Building off what we have briefly seen from Scripture, children need to see their parents giving themselves entirely to the Lord to serve Him on His mission. They need to see that their parents truly delight in God’s Word, both in learning it and obeying it.
Family devotions should be truly a time of devotion, where parents and children unite their hearts to call upon the Lord. Children need to see their parents yield a glad submission to Christ’s instructions. They need to observe Dad and Mom making decisions for their lives explicitly based upon God’s truth. They need to experience Mom and Dad confessing sin and changing their lives as they grow in grace. They need to know godly love in discipline and encouragement.
It is crucial that the children see their parents leading the family to serve God and others. They must learn that the family is not an end unto itself but a glorious scene of self-sacrificial giving. They need to know what deep commitment to a local church looks like.
They need to see what it looks like to love unbelievers, including the unbelievers who do not like and make do attempt to hide their contempt. Parents should honor those who love and the Lord well and hold them up as faithful examples before their children.
Q. What are some things that keep homeschool parents from living out this love for God?
A. The short answer is sin. Sin strangles love. But to be a little more specific, the love of the world and the things of the world is what leeches the life out of love for God in the home. God describes the love of the world as what your unredeemed mortal nature desires, what your morally blind eyes desire, and pride or confidence in your temporal possessions (1 John 2:15 – 17).
Fathers, I would take this opportunity to exhort you to beware of provoking your children (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21). There is a reason the Scripture singles us out for this admonition. Mothers, I would take the opportunity to encourage you to guard against giving free reign to the little frustrations, the small covetous moments, or the fears that can seep into even the best homeschooling situation.
Homeschooling can be a great opportunity to lay down your life for others, but all the worldliness wants to avoid the cross. It cannot bear to think of dying to its cherished dreams (compare Galatians 6:14). Disordered, deceitful desires are slain through dying with Christ, and then you come to experience real life – resurrection life, eternal life – in Christ.
Q. In the Spirit of Joshua who said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” what are some ways that you can build unreserved love for God within your family?
A. Let me just put forward one central means of building love. The local church is the school of love. It is in committed relationships of love with real people that you have to work hard at compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, as the apostle Paul had to tell the church at Colossae.
This is the arena in which you have to “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). The apostle John emphatically insists that if we do no love our brothers in Christ, we do not love God (1 John 2:7-11).
Q. Homeschooling can easily become all about math, science, etc. How do you keep love for God central in your educational endeavors?
A. Realize that every subject you study is, in its deepest and truest sense, an exploration of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. You are studying His mighty works in creation and providence. Your study itself is a gift of participation in His great plan.
Never forget that the unifying principle of the entire universe is none other than the Beloved Son of God (Colossians 1:15-20). Constantly make the connection to Christ in everything you study and then worship Him.
Q. As a pastor, is there a closing admonition you would like to share?
A. There is a lifetime of learning that goes into loving God truly. My answers here are not adequate, but I pray that they are an encouragement to all to taste and see that the Lord is good!