You should have seen the blank faces staring back at me, nearly 30 of them. I might as well have asked the class, “Quick! what’s the cube root of 1,117?”
We had been discussing the first and greatest commandment: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength.’” Jesus provided a bonus answer, not demanded by his questioner: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Here's how the question came about: after an hour’s discussion of the text in Mark 12: 28-31, I wanted to end the class on a practical note, so I asked, “OK, then. We have discovered the two most important legacies of the Old Testament. So tell me: how do we demonstrate our love for God?” The room fell silent. Not even the crickets dared make a sound.
I drove home from class wondering, “could it be that difficult? Has Jesus left us no clue regarding how to show our love for God?”
Perhaps the students in my little class had never considered the question. Could that be? I teach a college religion course in a small southern town where “everyone” goes to church. Has there been no Sunday school class, no Bible study, no sermon ever addressed at the question, how do we love God? This question is more than a meditation for the coming week. It is the question of our lives. It is the question of our purpose and being. Have you ever asked yourself this question?
If the entire Old Testament narrative can be reduced to just under 50 words, what answer can we give? What answer must we give? What answers can involve our emotion, personality, intellect and physicality? What answers can include the Creator, whom we cannot see, and our neighbor, whom we can? What answers can give direction to child and grandparent alike? What answers are required of us?
I’m asking because I’ve begun to wonder if we have given ourselves to this question. Perhaps you have given it some thought. Perhaps you will now. Either way, I’ll check the comments below nearly every hour, all week long, curious to know how you express your love for God. We need each other’s answers--what are yours?