A Call to Respond (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. ⁵You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." –Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Was there ever a time in your life when you knew exactly what you needed to do?
I had one of those moments in my prior career as a police officer. While on patrol we received a 911 call from a family whose non-verbal son, a 10-year-old, had wandered away from their home. I knew from my training that children on the autism spectrum are often drawn to water for the calming, all-enveloping sensation it gives them. I raced from retention pond to retention pond looking for that child. My moment happened when I rounded a corner, looking past the home in my view, to see a child standing up to his waist in water, a blank look on his face. I slammed my car into park and ran toward the pond, watching as he started walking deeper into the water. I rushed into the pond, pulling that young one to safety, and within a few minutes, into the arms of his mom.
That child might have been seconds away from drowning. The urgency of his circumstances demanded that I jump into the pond to rescue him.
Crises aren't the only things that require our immediate, overwhelming response. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 provides such an awesome declaration of truth that it demands our immediate and overwhelming response.
Verse 4 begins the Shema, which is Hebrew for hear. This call from Moses to the Israelites contrasted sharply with the beliefs and practices of the other nations and peoples around them who believed there were multiple gods. Moses’ declaration that “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” is an absolute statement that there is only one God. This is a truth the Israelites needed to hear so that they would not think, or become, like those around them.
Just because we don’t call our idols gods doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear this call. I am a monotheist, I believe there is only one true God. Yet I find myself tempted to make my children, my marriage, being accepted by others, and sometimes even the work of ministry, a higher priority than God. This verse humbles me. It reminds me that I need to heed the Lord God, the One God, the true and living God, and serve Him above all lesser things.
Just as the young boy’s peril demanded rescue, so too the statement of who God is demands a response. This text doesn’t leave our response up to us. God reveals what we should do: love Him with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might. This is the only right and true response to God. His exclusivity demands our exclusive love, our exclusive worship–worship that is both all-consuming and offered in love. Idols, being inanimate objects, were culturally satisfied by physical sacrifices. The one true living God does not require food, is not in need of our labor, and is not satisfied with gold or silver (Acts 17:24-25).
God tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7 that He does not see as man sees but looks on the heart. Most of us would find ourselves nodding our heads in agreement, but do our lives bear the fruit of that belief? Consider disciple-making. Lives committed to fully loving God should be marked by a heart for, and life of, making disciples of others who also have this all-consuming love for and worship of God. May our right hearing lead to an increase in our exclusive love for God that expresses itself in obedience to Him.
How is this even possible, to have this all-in love for God? It is only possible because of, and through, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are able to pursue this love for God because He loved us first. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, which includes truly loving God. But with Christ, all things are possible.
That moment when I rounded the corner, just a second before I saw the boy in the pond–I locked eyes with a gardener mowing the yard of the home in front of the pond. Motioning to me to look past himself, I saw the boy in the pond. What was that man’s response to seeing a 10-year-old boy–wearing just a diaper–walk past him, in a yard with no fence, toward a retention pond? He kept on mowing. No break in his action. No 911 call. No attempt to stop the child from continuing his perilous journey. He kept on mowing.
May that never be us. May the Lord compel us to “stop mowing”–stop the action of whatever we’re focused on to the neglect of His Word–in order to respond to the overwhelming truth of Deuteronomy 6:4-5. May He compel us to an all-consuming love for Him, our great and glorious God. Lord, help us to “stop mowing” and know exactly what we need to do: give You the worship You so greatly deserve.
Are there areas of your life where you’re holding onto idols, ignoring God’s call to worship Him alone?
What might you do this week to open your ears to hear God’s Word?
Ask God how you can increase your love for Him this week with your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Dan Claassen is Director of Ministry Expansion for Truth78. He formerly served within local law enforcement as a detective investigating Internet crimes against children. He has led several Christian foster care licensing and support organizations focused on equipping the church to care for some of the most vulnerable children and families within their communities. He's an elder at the church he and his family moved to Tampa, FL to help plant in 2014. Most importantly, Dan loves Jesus, his wife Teri, their three children, and storing up God's Word in his mind and heart. He is passionate about serving the local body of Christ.