Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord you God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
This is a series of reflections on Scot McKnight’s book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others. It’s a book I unequivocally recommend for anyone. Each chapter opens with recommended Gospel readings. The ones for this chapter are: Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10.
Our love for God is sacred.
That’s the central theme of this chapter. And sacredness flows from the word ‘all’ in the Shema and the first part of the Jesus Creed. It’s an all or nothing thing. A sacred love ‘sticks with what it is stuck with’. Isn’t that pretty much what Yahweh does? He has ‘stuck with’ humanity through the ages, working to heal and rescue us, loving us always.
Hosea is a primary example of this chapter. Hosea illustrated with his life that God was not just the God of Israel, but its Lover as well. McKnight calls this Hosea’s ‘open secret’. God is the Lover of Israel. And that leads him to Jesus’ ‘open secret’. God is an Abba Lover. God loves and is to be loved as a human loves his or her own father (or at least how a father ought to be loved and worthy of love).
McKnight then moves into how such a sacred love transforms our speech, our acts, and our worship. In our speech, we cannot help but speak of God with reserve. We do not wish to carelessly violate that sacred love. Since sinful acts are any that violate our love of God and others, sacred love converts acts of sin to acts of love. (He uses Zacchaeus for the example here.) And finally, it transforms our worship. And here he uses the example of the courtesan who, while Jesus is with a Torah-observant host, enters, falls at Jesus’ feet weeping and pours expensive oil on his feet.
His closing is beautiful.
I can think of no better illustration of what genuine Christian worship is all about: Worship happens when I comprehend (1) who I really am before God — a love-violating sinner, (2) how faithful and gracious God is to his sacred commitment of love for me, and (3) how incredibly good God is to open the floodgates of that love to me.
When I comprehend this, I anoint his feet with oil and wipe dry his feet of grace.
Does that describe the depth and tenor of our worship?