All of Life is Sacred
I recently presented a message to our church family at WindSong church of Christ entitled Jesus Is Lord. The basic thrust of the message was that the foundation of the Christian faith rests in the statement, "Jesus is Lord." It is a question of authority. In the life of ancient Israel, extending even to our day, the Shema served as the overarching proclamation of God's people. It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one." This acknowledgement stands in the face of the multiplicity of gods that were worshiped among the pagans. The polytheism present throughout the history of God's people reached to every aspect of life. From the fields to the forests, from the seas to the sun, from the rivers to the rain...it would seem that everything in the known world had a "god" which ruled in specific areas: the sun god, the rain god, etc. It's not difficult to see how strange this proclamation must have sounded to non-Hebrew people.
Jesus connects the Shema with the greatest command when he teaches that we are to love God will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. You see, this greatest command follows the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:5 which reads, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Certainly, we are called to love God and our neighbor. This is a clear teaching of Jesus. Jesus also explains that through our loving spirit, others will know that we have committed ourselves to following him. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples [followers], if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Through our love for God and others, which according to Jesus are the two greatest commands (Matthew 22:36-40), we proclaim something about the authority of God and Christ.
The apostle Paul also referenced the Shema in his letters to the churches in Corinth and Ephesus. To the Corinthians he wrote,
"...we know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one.’ For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).
Again to the church in Ephesus Paul wrote, “…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:5-6). These words that Paul shares with these two congregations are the "Shema" of the new covenant of Christ.
The apostle Peter, as he was delivering the first message of the new covenant, made a proclamation to the Hebrew people who had gathered for Pentecost, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ..." (Acts 2:36). Not too long after this message was given at Pentecost, Peter and John found themselves before the Jewish ruling counsel. In a Spirit-filled speech to the chief priests Peter declared, "...Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12). These words, among others found in the New Testament, are the "Shema" of the new covenant. They point to the authority of God and Christ. And these words are the foundation of who we are as followers of Christ. This is our faith statement: Jesus is Lord!
The problem comes when we fail to allow those words to permeate every aspect of our lives. We tend to compartmentalize our lives, including our faith. Our speech gives us away. We talk about our work lives, our social lives, our family lives...and our spiritual lives. But we must not separate our lives this way. If we are followers of Jesus, if we are truly committed to him, then we will allow every aspect of our lives to be filled with this foundational claim: Jesus is Lord! In their book, Shaping of Things to Come, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch state, "All of life is sacred when it is placed in relationship to the living God.” We must understand that God is concerned with our whole lives. Not just the parts we deem "religious" or "spiritual". My prayer is that we spend time reflecting on our journey of faith and work to bring every moment under the proclamation we made when we first believed: Jesus is Lord!