In Matthew 22, Jesus is asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He answers by quoting what’s known as the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). “Shema” is the Hebrew word, “hear” (from the same root word that means “obey”). The Shema starts with, “Hear Oh Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is ONE.” Jesus brings the entire Law (613 laws) down to one. He took the non-core down to the core, the essence, the non-negotiable. He said: Love God comprehensively (with all you are) and love others. We love God as we love others. He says, “the second is like it…”. They asked Him for one commandment and He seems to give them two.
The Hebraic approach to Scripture was this: Hearing and obeying are one in the same. You don’t hear the Word of God and walk away from it doing nothing. If so, you didn’t hear it. To say you believe or agree with Scripture and not act on it, (biblically speaking) is to say you don’t believe it or agree with it.
It’s interesting to note: The Shema was first and foremost a declaration of radical monotheism. That was the distinction of the Jews- there is one God (not many gods or no god). It was a radical commitment to the one true God. The first commandment in Exodus 20 states the same unprecedented truth: “You shall have no other gods before me”. The implication is clear. There is one God and no other. The Incarnation didn’t change this truth or this radical devotion. In fact, it simply shifted this comprehensive devotion to Christ Himself. The very reason the Jews wanted Jesus crucified was that He claimed to BE this God in the flesh. The Romans wanted Christ crucified because He claimed to be Lord of all- and not subject to Caesar or any man. Think about it- the great declaration of the early church was not “Jesus is Savior” (though that was central to the kerygma). The great declaration of the early church was, “Jesus is Lord”- Lord, Master, King above all kings. It was this truth and commitment that resulted in countless martyrs in the early Church.
So, listen to the words of Jesus. “If you love me you’ll obey me” (John 14:15). “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and you do NOT do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). To love God is obey God. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the NAME of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:23). It all comes down to this: Love God. How? Love others. Love God=love others. The converse is true: If you don’t love others, it’s proof- you don’t love God (1 John 4:20).
The highest form of worship is obedience.