I’m learning about shapes, triangles to be specific. And no, I’m not studying geometry – apparently, in our culture today many people retain information better if it’s presented in the form of a shape. This week I was studying two new favorite books (about the Kingdom and living in Christ’s presence), when three priorities fell into place…and they form a triangle! Well, okay, you could put them in a three-point sermon or a short list of bullet points but I do actually think the triangle might help one remember it better. It also makes sense because the three interact with and influence each other.
Love God with All: Mark 12:30
The Great Commandment, as Jesus proclaims it in Mark 12:30….Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. But how do we actually DO that? I appreciate how John Eldredge addresses this question in Free to Live:
How do you love any of the people or the things that you currently love? You delight in them. You give your heart over to them. You choose them over other things and other people. They hold a special place in your heart. They get the lion’s share of your time, your attention, your presence….we give our whole heart to God. We make him the treasure of our life.
Eldredge goes on to challenge us to consider these questions as we seek to love God with everything:
What do you love more than God?
What do you look to for security more than you look to God?
Where do you draw your sense of identity from, more than you draw it from God?
Whatever you look to for security or comfort or assurance or validation, whatever you look to to make yourself feel better or to bring you pleasure over and above or quite apart from God is idolatry… (Idolatry) happens anytime we look to anything over God as the source of life.
In your quest to love God with everything, it will help to know him. (Hard to love someone you don’t know right?) Understanding who God is, his nature, that he is good, that he is for you, is essential. We’ll talk about that more later (and/or start with reading Epic, see my note at the end of this post). You’ll also benefit from understanding your true identity, as well, because having an inaccurate view of either yourself or of God will distort your ability to love him with all of your everything. That’s also a topic for another day, or you can start now with Neil Anderson’s excellent book, Victory over the Darkness.
But, can you imagine how when you love God with all of your everything, you can live…in union with God?
Union with God: John 15:1-15
“I am the true sprouting vine and you’re my branches. When you live in life-union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from you. But when you live separated from me you are powerless.” ~ Jesus
Union with God, knowing him (which is what Jesus defines as ‘eternal life,’ see John 17:3) is the essence of Christianity. It’s not about faith in God, or trusting Him, although those are important for sure. The purpose though, is union with God.
To begin stepping into the reality of experiencing union with God, there are two key things you should know. First, an intimate, conversational relationship with God, is available, and meant to be normal. God is, as one book I read describes, is a “chatterbox.” He wants to talk with us! More on this here.
Secondly, as we’ve discussed before, salvation is a life of knowing God intimately, walking with him daily. Eternal life starts now when we walk with God and receive our life from him from one moment to the next.
“The life that is pleasing to God is not a series of religious duties. We have one thing to do, namely, to experience a life of relationship and intimacy with God.” – Jon Ortberg, Eternity Now in Session
(see also the section in The Transformation Triangle about walking with Holy Spirit)
Living in union with God enables us to know him more and thus, love him with more of our everything. And, living in union with him and loving him with our everything enables us to….seek first his kingdom.
Seek First the Kingdom of God: Matthew 6:33
What do you do when you’ve lost something precious? You look for it everywhere. We do the same when seeking God’s Kingdom. We look for it everywhere…and when we do so we start living with true contentment, peace, joy and hope.
Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 not to worry about anything, but above all, chase after the realm of God’s kingdom. To do this it helps to remember, as we learned here, that the Kingdom of God is God in action, and yes, it is present and accessible now. So we look for that and in doing so, we continue to know and love him more and walk more intimately with him.
Dallas Willard offers three very tangible actions to take to get started with this:
Study and meditate on God’s word – Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-4;
Acknowledge and expect God to be involved in everything you’re doing - Proverb 3:5-7
Leave your cares with God - 1 Peter 5:5-7
Part of seeking the Kingdom also involves understanding the Epic Story we’re in, including the warfare that continues to assault us. I’ll write about this more, but for now, you could read Epic (it’s super-short and usually only $2 on Amazon), or you could listen to the 45-minute Wild at Heart podcast in which Eldredge explains it.
Each of these areas are great places to start digging deeper to strengthen your connection with Jesus and your ability to live in his Kingdom now, and find that abundant life he promised. I hope you will think about this, study it, and determine for yourself if you agree and how it will change your life.
Hearing God and Living in Christ's Presence by Dallas Willard, Free to Live, Walking with God and Epic by John Eldredge, Eternity is Now in Session by John Ortberg, Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson,
Scriptures to Start With:
· Mark 12:30, John 10:10, John 14:15-27; John 15:1-15; John 17:3, Matt. 6:33; 1 John (?)
· Josh. 1:8, Psalm 1:1-4, Prov. 3:5-7, 1 Pet. 5:5-7