Do you have a favorite passage or two from the Bible? Many of us have some familiar passages we know by heart or at least partially. Sunday, we’ll start a series of sermons on “The Bible’s Greatest Hits,” as we look at several passages that are very well known, passages we have heard so often we may miss their deeper meaning in our current lives. It turns out these are also the same passages that our children are studying in Sunday School, so we will be one church in our learning and worship this month. I’m excited that all ages will reflect on the meaning of these words from God for us. We hope that families especially will take some time for discussion at home about what they heard and discovered in church.
So what do you love the most in life? There are many good answers to that question. What captures your heart? A cause or concern? A place of passion in your life for nature, family, a person? Faith asks us very pointedly about how much we love God. A foundational passage in the Hebrew Bible from Deuteronomy says: “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.” That is a total love. To love God with your heart is to give the core of your being, that part of us that brims with joy, and desire, that part of us capable of great devotion. To love God with our soul is a deep thought. I think of the soul as our inner life, that confluence of our personality and spiritual seeking, our wanting to know & meet God. Here is the place in us where that divine spark resides and grows into a flaming fire as we resonate with God. To love God with our mind is to embrace the curiosity for learning and growing our understanding of God, the Bible, our theology and how we think about our faith.
Maybe this makes sense to you. Maybe this seems like a stretch. John Wesley suggested that one of the goals of the Christian life is to stay in love with God. We’ll talk Sunday about how we do this and put ourselves into an environment where such deep and life-giving love of God can grow and flourish. We’ll worship in the presence of God whose love draws us and send us out into the world to show what it means to love with heart, mind, soul and strength.