I Peter 2
√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken
2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
God has designed our bodies from the inside out. It’s a good design. We have an internal structure that our entire body is built around. We are born the first time with everything in miniature, a tiny skeleton along with tiny muscles and organs that all need to grow in relationship with one another.
The second time we’re born it’s another version of miniature but still a new life. We’re still “newborn babies” and still based on God’s original design..but this time we’re aware of life in relationship to God and equipped with faith to “grow up in your salvation.” There’s a new structure that requires different muscles and organs; “your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” that must grow in relationship with one another into the spiritual house God has designed you to be.
This is God’s truth: ”you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Go big!
-Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
-Matthew 22:37 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
-Luke 10:27…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
These three New Testament Scripture passages all quote Jesus speaking words that would have been familiar to his Jewish hearers, the Shema. They’re words still used repeatedly in Jewish prayers. They all include loving God with your heart and soul which seems obvious. The inclusion of mind and/or strength is the variant that got my attention. I understand the access to mind and strength more than I do heart and soul.
This is the age-old debate: Is it strength of commitment or the exercise of the mind that fills the heart and soul? How do we figure out what’s required of us to prove our sincerity? It would seem even these Bible authors had their own opinion on that. Mind and strength? Mind? Strength? Do I have to choose one or the other?
Hillel was a famous religious leader in Jewish history. He was asked to recite the whole law for a dedicated student who would prove his sincerity and his physical strength by listening to it all while standing on one leg. That’s a funny mind picture isn’t it? Hillel’s short answer was probably pretty welcome to him; “What thou hatest for thyself, do not to thy neighbour. This is the whole law, the rest is commentary. Go and learn.”
This is the whole law…“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” Now go find a comfortable spot, read, study and think. God will begin to write his whole commentary in your mind and on your heart to strengthen your soul
Psalm 119 – א Aleph
1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart—
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me.
There’s mystery in the acrostic use of the Hebrew aleph-bet in this 22 section Psalm. Our alphabet is a sequence of letters but theirs is a sequence of symbols that have a particular meaning. That symbol is the first letter of the word that begins each verse of a section in the Hebrew text. I found a chart of the meaning of those Biblical Hebrew symbols that I’m going to use as I read and think about each of these 22 sections.
א Aleph – ox head, yoke, learn.
The blessing is clear in this first section: be blameless, walk according to the Lord, keep his statutes and seek him with all your heart.
This must be what the writer had in mind for that first symbol, Aleph. It seems to fit. We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] how to be blessed.
We need strength [ox]; we need yoke [Christ]; we need to [learn] to pray these honest words “do not utterly forsake me” as this mystery of blessing becomes a reality in my life.