Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deut. 6:4
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40
I recently returned home from Orlando where I spent three days with pastors, ministers, and leaders from all over North America, at the D6 Conference. On the first night, Rabbi Jacob Rosenberg opened the main stage with the powerful verses quoted above. He opened with something along the lines, “I’m getting ready to say something that was said first by Moses and then by Jesus so I’m following some big names.”
Rabbi Rosenberg explained that Jewish people call the first verse the Great Shema or the Great Listening. These words are repeated often throughout their worship services and as prayers throughout the day.
When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He repeated the Great Shema and He added the second line “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
And then He said the thing that really takes the cake. He said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” In other words, He distilled all of Scripture that they had been given down to these commandments. It was like He said, “Start here.”
Rabbi Rosenberg wanted to be clear that when the Shema says to love God with “all” your heart, soul, and strength, that it really means all. To “love the Lord” with “all your heart” literally means with “all of your inner parts.” The word soul in this verse refers to means “breath” literally implying, if we didn’t love Him, we wouldn’t be able to breathe.
What if we took that seriously? What if we truly were “all in”?
The theme of this year’s D6 Conference was “All In.” The challenge to both ministers and parents alike. What if we took these verses seriously and we were all in in our love for God and our love for others? What would that look like?
If you are like me, immediately a sense of feeling overwhelmed at the prospect begins to set in. To be that enveloped in my love for God and others feels nearly impossible to me. Throughout the conference, we explored ways that we can get distracted from being all in, ways that we can get weary from being all in, ways that we can get thwarted from being all in. And it felt like a lot… like an algebra problem with no solution.
Right up until the final speaker, the speaker who reminded us of some very important things, things that take the impossible for us and reframe them in the proper light of Christ.
So, weary parent, tired minister, despondent disciple, listen to these reminders from the final speaker, Chrystal Evans Hurst.
First, Chrystal reminded us of this story from some other disciples who presented Jesus with the impossible problem in Luke 9.
Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.” But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?”
You feed them. You be all in.
The disciples didn’t know what to do with that. They presented a problem, Jesus offered a solution, and the disciples didn’t know what to do. “When we give God problems and He gives us solutions, we start listing all the things we don’t have, as if His solution ever started with what we had” Why is that? Chrystal goes on, “The answer to our problems, the solution, the miracles, often follow our obedience. He is asking to partner with us.”
And finally, this challenge, “What if the thing you are wishing away and praying away is exactly the thing you need to grow, to become more like Jesus?”
We are human beings. Apart from the grace of God, we cannot be “all in.” But because of the grace of God, we can’t not be “all in!” His grace compels us and His strength sustains us.
If we are weary, tired, and despondent; if being “all in” sounds utterly overwhelming and exhausting, it’s probably in our best interest to sit down with Jesus and say, “What should I do?” And no matter what He says, just say “Okay.” Don’t explain why you can’t or the resources you lack. Just obey to the best of your ability and be willing to be all in. Because He already is. He’s all in on you and He is able to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine.
For More Information about D6 Family and D6 Conference, go to d6family.com. Next year D6 Conference will be in Orlando, April2-4. It would be wonderful to share the experience with you!
It’s Time To Connect
Are you ready to connect the generations in your church community? Looking for ways to help the older generations and younger generations to come together for discipleship, mentorship, and relationship?
Check out Connect Generations from ReFocus Ministry. It’s a simple self-assessment that can be done by a church in less than a week that offers specific insight into the barriers and bridges to connect generations. And it includes a FREE follow-up coaching session to create a plan for the future. Learn more here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina Embree is the founder and director of ReFocus Ministry. She holds a masters in ministry focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and is completing her doctoral degree in spiritual formation with a focus on age segregation and intergenerational ministry. In addition to coaching churches of multiple denominations and traditions all around the globe, Christina serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship for the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ and as a pastor at Plowshares Brethren in Christ in Lexington, Kentucky. She is widely recognized as a speaker and author in the areas of generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and family ministry. As the mother of three children, she is familiar with the challenges of faith at home and pastoral ministry. She along with her husband Luke share a love for the church, their community, and the global work of peace and restoration through Jesus.