Our Love to God

Luke 10:27.---' Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.'

We can never be too thankful that when Christ was upon earth He was asked a question that gave Him the opportunity to state in a sentence what this religion is that the world calls Christianity, the religion of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He summed it up in two statements which so correlate and complete one another that they are virtually one statement, when He declared that religion is the loving of God with all our powers of heart, soul, strength, and mind, and the loving of our fellow-man as ourselves.

The first distinguishing characteristic of our religion is its spirituality. Our religion, primarily, is not a matter of the hand, the mouth, the foot, but of an inner sentiment, named love. Our religion never exists until love exists. The saying of prayers, by the lips or by the machine; the giving of the body to be burned; the sounding of declarations of devotion; the bestowing of all our goods to feed the poor; pilgrimages, ceremonies, creeds, sacrifices---these are not the essence of our religion. The essence of our religion is a hidden thing---the ear may not hear it, the eye may not see it---a hidden thing that lies far back in the recesses of being, an imperceptible, intangible, unweightable spirit. It is love. No man, no church, no society has our religion unless it has love. Whatever may be paraded before the world as our religion is not our religion unless at the center, as its dominant and all-pervading force, is love. Our religion is not material, it is spiritual; it is not a form, it is a motive.

Religion is not a system of doctrines, an observance of modes, a heat of affections, a form of words, a spirit of censoriousness. Religion is not a hear-say, a presumption, a profession; is not an affectation of any mode; is not a piety of particular fancy, consisting in some pathetic devotions, vehement expressions, bodily severities, affected anomalies and aversions from the innocent usages of others; but consists in a profound humility and an universal charity.

The second characteristic of our religion is the nature of its spirituality. That nature is not destructive, but constructive; its element is not the hurtful, but the helpful; its source is not hate, but love. Love is the strongest sentiment possible to the spirit of man. It is an upbuilding sentiment. True love to another is loyalty to another's highest interests. There cannot be love when there is intention to harm. The libertine who plots ruin to virtue is not a lover of man or woman---he is a hater: he is inflamed, not with the light of heaven, but with the fires of hell. Love always and everywhere seeks the advancement and benefit, the security and welfare of him towards whom it is cherished. It is a life-giving stream, it is a flower of joy, it is a sunbeam brightening darkness. Where love comes, protection comes, and cheer comes, and benediction comes. To love is to bless.

This sublime sentiment, implanted in every life, a very part of that life as much as the capacity to breathe is a part of that life, has its perfect play only when it lays hold of ever inner power---heart, mind, soul and strength---and uses them all in its helpful service. Our religion calls upon us to love God with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength! What demand upon love that is! It is an exhaustive demand---a demand that our whole spiritual nature with absolute loyalty devote itself to God!

That there are different powers in our spiritual being we are conscious. There is a heart---the power that knows joy and grief, that greets the bright with gladness and grows heavy before the gloomy. When the heart is strong, how brave we are: and when the heart is weak, how courage fails. The heart! Everyone who has had a dear parent or has himself become a parent, everyone who has faced dangers and passed through scenes of gladness knows, that he has a heart.

There is also a soul within us, an unseen something that gives us the capacity of direct fellowship with others, that makes us understand what we call 'the communion of kindred spirits.' It deals with friendship and all that has part in friendship. It is the highest element of our being, because we stand before some mighty expression of God in Nature, such as the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the soul becomes conscious that it is dealing with the sublime, the almighty. The soul is the most weighty element within us, and a man is never a saved man until his soul is fitted for fellowship with the best of earth and of heaven.

There is another element within us, an element that is more an atmosphere about the heart and soul than a distinct faculty---the element that adds spring and vigor to heart and soul; it is the glow, the fervor, the exhilaration of our spiritual nature. We are just as convinced that there is such an atmosphere as we are convinced of our being: it expresses itself when the heart throbs with energy, when the mind is intense, when the soul is inflamed, it is the 'strength,' the enthusiasm, of our being.

Then too, there is a mind within us---an intellect, a cooler element than the heart, less emotional, more judicial, more inclined to weigh evidence. When that mind examines and approves, there comes conviction. The mind is different from the heart. For example, the heart of the father loves his prodigal boy, it goes out to him in tenderness; but the mind of the father cannot love what the prodigal's life and deeds are because the father cannot approve them. When at last the boy becomes a changed man, becomes humble and penitent, then the mind of the father can love everything about the boy because it approves of him.

That love is to take in all the 'heart' and 'soul and 'strength' and 'mind,' as quoted to Jesus from Moses by the inquiring lawyer, suggests strongly that it sweeps in the whole nature of man. The act of love and the life of love must involve not merely the emotional powers, but the keen, wise discipline and use of the mental powers, the strength of the bodily powers, and the very life-principle itself. That my friends is our religion.

Little children, love God. In Christ, timothy. maranatha