The Emergent Jesus Way (Part 3): With All Our Heart, With All Our Soul
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul . . . " (Mark 12:30, NRSV)
Emergent faith in the Jesus Way is attached to a singular vision: the creation of Oneness. That is the core purpose of emergent faith, and the sole mission for those of us who are Christians of a new kind. And our foremost identifying mark is Love. Not intellectual assent to a belief system, but the embodiment and practice of Love. Love of God, and love of neighbor. In this post we'll be discussing what it means to "love God with all our heart, and with all our soul."
Loving God With All Our Heart
As I mentioned in the previous article in this series, Love is the universal element and essence of harmony, inspiration, and communion, where harmony is the sublime order and unity inherent in Creation, where inspiration is the spirit or "spark" that animates all Creation, and where communion is the sacred connectedness which integrates all Creation and all Life.
Love is akin to the oneness of a symphony, where the music is more than the sum of the instrumental sounds, but is the harmony of diversity that inspires its participants in an experience of melodious communion.
And so if God is Love, then to love God is to be a participant in the "divine symphony" of Life, embodying and creating harmony that inspires us to engender communion within ourselves, with others, and with our living world. This is Oneness, which is the nature and purpose of Life.
But how do we love God "with all our heart?"
When we speak of "heart" in this instance, we are of course referring to it figuratively. As such, "heart" represents the inner source of our intentions and motivations, of our desires and passions, the inner faculty that influences our thoughts and our conduct.
And so to love God with all our heart means that our participation in the "divine symphony" of Life is, literally, wholehearted. It means that our intentions, motivations, desires, and passions are singularly compelled by Love and uncompromisingly devoted to its purpose of Oneness. It means doing more than simply proclaiming a belief, but means living a life of genuine conviction in authentic human faith. It means that if we are players in this divine symphony, then our instruments must be in tune, and our focus must be undistracted. Otherwise we would simply be making noise, and not music, thereby contributing to disharmony.
But it is impossible to be a participant in this divine symphony if we are unfamiliar with the music, and unskilled with our instruments.
You may recall in the previous article I mentioned how a critical first step when embarking upon the path of the Jesus Way is to become awakened by emptying ourselves of our brokenness, and consciously and mindfully embracing Love. In order to embrace the music of true Life, we must cast out the noise of the false life. We cannot fill our cup with the new if it is still filled with the old. We must empty our inner cup. What does this mean? How is it done?
Emptying ourselves -- or kenosis, which is Greek for "emptying" -- is an act of complete intention and radical self-honesty. It is very much like giving up an addiction. This means boldly confronting our preconceptions and becoming mindful of new ways of understanding life and our connectedness to Creation and to one another. It means accepting the challenge to reject fear, and to re-vision our faith by doing away with old, useless notions and beliefs, and fully seeking to live renewed life devoted to Love in the exercise of Reason, humility, self-discipline, wisdom, grace, and compassion.
Only when we have done this can we become awakened. Only when our hearts are emptied of old spiritual addictions and ideas can the new lifeblood of Love flow into our souls. And only then, when we have confronted our brokenness, can we love God with "all our heart."
Loving God With All Our Soul
When we speak of "soul," we are referring to that which makes us "us," in terms of our personalities and identities as beloved children of God. Our soul is who we are as unique individuals, emotionally and spiritually. It is our character, and the conscience that informs it. Moreover, it is not only the inner self, but it is also the outer expression of it.
So to love God "with all our soul" means more than just performing acts of goodness out of obligation or duty as if it were merely a religious function. It means Love is the core of who we are, the hallmark of our individual character, and the preeminent ethos by which we live our lives.
To love God with all our soul is to embody Love as our identity. And in doing this can we then express the "kingdom" -- the Oneness -- that is within us.
In the next post in this series I will discuss what it means to love God "with all our mind" and "with all our strength."