I have been pondering this verse from Deuteronomy:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6:5 GNB
It should sum us up as Followers of Jesus … we should be a people who love God with all they have.
The thing is with ’all’ is that it is pretty black or white. All our heart, soul and strength. All our gifts and our talents. All our material possessions. All our relationships. All our time and our money and our pleasure and our pain and our desires and our … well, you get the gist. We need to give God our all. Not a part but our all. 99% is not all … it’s 100% or nothing.
There is no space for something not of God. Nothing should come between us and our ability to give our all to God.
We need to weed out all that interferes.
My wife is an excellent gardener. She has a tremendous knack of turning a space from the bland and ordinary into something beautiful and extraordinary. Her exploits as a guerrilla gardener are impressive and inspirational. She doesn’t talk about this hobby of hers and I’d better stop or she’ll kill me … the point is she employs a zero-tolerance to weeds like dandelions. She weeds them out … each and every time she’s faced with one. She is relentless. Her discipline is exemplary.
God wants this kind of relentless discipline … He wants us all to Himself … and we can help make this happen through our own relentless weeding.
Don’t get me wrong … we can’t do it alone … but we don’t have to. He has given us His Spirit as guide and comforter. He has also placed us in community with others be it our family, our church, our friends, or all three.
I believe He has given our passions – the healthy ones, that is – for a reason … so that we can use them as a means to connect with others. In this way, we can use all we have for Him through our interaction and engagement with others.
The way we connect with our fellows is vitally important, however.
Judgement is a sin and has the ability to come between us and God. Jealousy. Resentfulness. ’Us and Them’ tribalism and exclusivity. The inability to forgive. Name-calling depersonalisation. All these things can and do come between us and God … if we let them.
We need to build safe-spaces where people can search and discover their failings. We need to build the kind of community that will be gentle with its members … but will, paradoxically, encourage each individual to partake in this kind of relentless weeding. A space where people are so busy sorting themselves out that they don’t worry about even attempting sorting out their neighbour … yet a community that is so wholly mindful of our collective situation … that we are all in this together … that they can and do provide loving care and support to each member according to the member’s need.
This is church for me. A safe space where introspection and communal compassion meet … where we work together for the betterment of one-another without judgement or blame.
God wants for us to love Him with all we have. Let’s do all we can to ensure we can give Him our all by removing the weeds that get in the way … whilst supporting others to do the same.