Scripture Repeatedly Says “All” and “One”

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Two simple (yet powerful!) words: “All” and “One”

When we look for clues in literature, one of the things we look for is repetition. Nowhere is this more true than in God’s Word.

In the mandate found in Mark 12:28-31, Jesus frames His command with the ultimate declaration: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” You can almost hear Him emphasize that last word. “One” may be short, but its meaning is huge. Then in stating God’s mandate, Jesus repeats the word “all” four times.

I want to link together and show how important “One” and “All” are as the starting blocks in the Heart Mapping journey.

All and One are the language of desperation. All and One are irreducible. All and One are God’s currency in the transaction that is your life. Ultimately, they rule out a Plan B and set your heart on a fixed course that will define your life.

We will look at God’s Unlimited Fidelity—the limitless ways He pursues, pays for, and plans out your heart’s journey into wholeness and into His kingdom. We’ll look at the magnificent picture of the Threshing Floor and why John the Baptist called this harvest, sifting, and storing of your life ”good news.”

If this sounds heavy, it isn’t. It really comes down to seeing and fixing our gaze on two simple (yet powerful!) words, “All” and “One.”

The Power of Repetition

The Oregon Ducks motto: "Win the Day"

The Oregon Ducks motto: “Win the Day”

Mandates are to be repeated and repeated often. The language of repetition is important. You can observe how often people repeat their message. Just watch a football game and you’ll see the same commercial ten times. Advertisers know is takes five or six times to break through your defenses. I listen to our local sports talk radio and there’s Chip Kelly, his coaching staff, and every Oregon Duck player repeating their daily mandate, “Win the Day.”

God too is zealous for His mandate. His epilogue to the Law in Deuteronomy 6 sets a pattern for how to repeat the mandate every day and to repeat it in every way. This is where Jesus turns in summing up the most important priority of the heart—the mandate to obey the first commandment: Love God first.

God knows there’s a lot of static competing for your space and you have to keep actively contending for your mandate.

  • Mandate is the guiding priority that helps us sort out life.
  • Mandate makes sure the lesser things get done. If you do the one big thing, all the other stuff falls in place (think Ford’s motto, “Quality is job one”).

So, do you know what your mandate is? If you have to think about it, even for a second, you haven’t repeated it enough yet. That’s okay. Just do whatever it takes to repeat it a lot in coming days!

 

The Apostolic Prayer We Dare Not Forget

Map showing the ancient city of Ephesus

Map showing the ancient city of Ephesus

You and I have a dual mandate: to be lovers of God, and lovers of people.

It’s an incredible, all-encompassing mandate. It speaks to every sphere of life, and every relationship we have.

Several years ago, as I began to ask Jesus to source my obedience to this dual mandate, I began to pray an apostolic prayer. We find that prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21.

I have probably prayed this apostolic prayer 200 or 300 times. I have memorized it. I encourage you to memorize it if you’re serious because this is one of the source documents that points right at the resourcing of your life from the inside out.

This apostolic prayer couldn’t be any more explicit and it’s absolutely beautiful. Paul talks about the Gospel and lays it out to the Ephesians church. This is the same church we read about in the book of Revelation, which (sadly) had forgotten this prayer after a while.

Here is that powerful, essential, ongoing apostolic prayer: 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

If you’re struggling with God’s dual mandate for your life, I strongly encourage you to memorize this prayer. Keep praying this prayer. Paul is saying, I’m releasing the riches of God’s glorious resource into your life, to strengthen you with power in the inner man that Christ would dwell in your heart, that there would be this invasion in you to resource the experience of the love of God, and out of that love you’re going to be filled again, and when you’re filled again what’s going to happen? You can experience the resourcing that gives you the ability to fulfill the mandate.

We’re just like my 8-year-old friend Henry—most of us, anyway. Like him, I want to get the most heart function I can get. I don’t want to come to the end of life with the mandate unfulfilled in my life and experience. Instead, I want to go right into the next life without missing a beat because guess what everyone is doing in heaven? That’s right: loving God, and loving people.

Here is my prayer for you right now:

Father, we thank you. Thank you for your Son who is the healer of hearts. Thank you for your Son who is the resource for all of our obedience, the one who knows the way when we think there is no way. The one who knows how to cure, how to heal, how to do what no one else can do. He is the answer, He is the resource, and He is the prize. His name is Jesus. Amen.

 

Fulfilling the Mandate through the Journey of Heart Mapping

God wants us to have a whole heart

God wants us to have a whole heart

If you don’t have a whole heart, how can you obey the mandate to seek God wholeheartedly? The answer is, you can’t.

That’s why when I spend time talking about Heart Mapping, what I’m really talking about is Jesus laying out His agenda for healing your heart.

Jesus wants to source your obedience to this mandate to love God and to love people. He is after that relentlessly. It is the thing that connects us to Him and connects us to each other. Or to put it this way, a whole heart and a functioning heart is a prize to God. He loves wholeheartedness, but I want to tell you something. It’s good for you too. It’s a good thing when your whole heart is working. It’s enjoyable to have a fuller and fuller range of emotion

My friend, Henry, is 8 years old now, but he was born with about 50% or 60% of his heart. There were pieces missing. And so his doctors made a plan to build a heart that would work. The problem is, they couldn’t turn the thing on all the way because his little body couldn’t handle it. So, for the first 6 years of his life they keep the heart function slowed down, and if you watched Henry he was a pretty smart kid, he functioned, he got around, he did everything he was doing, but he was always a little tired. But there came a day when they turned it on fully and he has been at 110% ever since, and that’s on his slow days. On his fast days he is like 150%, 170%. He never slows down!

That’s what happens in our spirit life when God resources a wholeheartedness. It will bring an energy, and a resource, and a joy, and a delight, and a surprise to your experience, and yet for most of us we’re not even familiar with the process.

We need to get introduced to Jesus, this heart doctor guy, who understands how it works, who is trustworthy, who can get in there and do the work; who not only can heal you but he can train you to help others and begin to bring resources to others’ lives so that we can actually, in real-time, experience what God intended for his people to experience. He has always intended for us to have an experience of loving Him and loving one another. This always was His intent.

Committing to a Whole Heart: Prepping for Surgery

Master and Commander (2003)

Master and Commander (2003)

There is a compelling movie, with many compelling images, called Master and Commander (2003). There’s this scene where the surgeon of a ship gets shot and he takes a bullet right in the abdomen, right below the ribs. He is getting sicker and sicker and the only other person on the ship who knows anything about medicine is incompetent. So, he gets to the critical place where he is going to die if they don’t get the bullet out. So you know what he does? He makes himself the patient. He puts a mirror up and he has some assistance, but he does surgery on himself. He actually cuts his own abdomen open, reaches in with the forceps, and pulls out the bullet and does surgery on himself.

If you want to live the mandate of God, and you’re serious about it, there are going to be times when there are things inside of you which are limiting your obedience. It’s not that you lack understanding of what God wants to do. It’s that the inner resources of your life for one reason or another are limited, and God is going to have to open up those places and work on them and you will have to participate. He might put you under light anesthesia, but you’re going to be amazed at just how much you learn and there’s a reason why.

Because, it’s not just about you. Because, there comes a point in the journey when after you’ve been under the care of the master cardiologist, and He wants you to begin to partner and help other people with their broken hearts and so that is the process of becoming wholehearted because the Scripture says if you seek me with your whole heart, you’ll find me.

Well, what happens if your heart is broken and a piece of it is not working or it got lost somewhere? Or you gave your heart to something and someone stole a piece of you and you never got it back? What happens if somehow there is a fracture in your inner heart and pieces that were supposed to be connected got disconnected and it’s not working?

How can you obey the mandate to seek God wholeheartedly if you don’t have a whole heart?

Taking Up Our Mandate from Our Written Source, the Bible

 

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible.

The Gutenberg Bible, the first printed Bible.

Like Abraham Lincoln, we have a twofold mandate and two source materials.

First, we have a mission mandate based on our written source material, the Bible. Second, we have a motive mandate based on our heart source material, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If we go into the Scriptures, our source document, how do we pull out our mandate? Does the Bible tell us what our job is?

In order to justify our life’s journey, like Lincoln, we need to look for a mandate to stand behind us and anchor everything we do. Thankfully, the Bible presents an amazingly consistent pattern for our two-part mandate.

10 Scriptures: A biblical pattern of the two-part mandate

1. Mark 12:28-34, The most important commandment

2. Matthew 28:16-20, The Great Commission

3. Deuteronomy 6:4-7, Loving God is not a solo issue. It always has two parts.

4. Exodus 20, Four commandments on loving God, six on loving your brother

5. Psalms 16:1-3, The Psalmist links the two-part mandate

6. Book of Hosea, Loves God and obeys him by loving his people in a dramatic way

7. John 15:9-17, Jesus’ final discourse to his disciples…to love God and love others

8. 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks to the church “if I don’t have love I am nothing”

9. Ephesians 3:14-21, Established in love (one of my favorite passages of Scripture)

10. Revelation 2:1-7, Church of Ephesus did one part of mandate but not the other

Our Dual Mandate: Lovers of God, Lovers of People

The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer quoted by Jesus.

The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer quoted by Jesus.

Imagine you were to ask Jesus to follow the pattern of Abe Lincoln and say, “What’s your mandate? Why do you do what you do?”

Do you want to know what he is going to say to you?

We find the answer in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12. One of the teachers of the law walks up and hears some hotshots debating with Jesus. Noticing that Jesus has given them a good answer, he asks him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)

Listen again to what Jesus says about his dual mandate: “Because I’m a lover of God, and I’m a lover of people. If you look behind the curtain in my life, that’s what you’re going to find. That’s the engine that fuels what I do, and if you want to know how I am going to get where I need to go, I’m going to get there because I’m a lover of God and a lover of people.”

Now I thought, maybe we should just check that out and see if that mandate holds up in our source documents. Jesus pulled his response out of the source documents. He didn’t make that up. He went in, pulled it out, and set it in front of this man who was actually a type of lawyer who asked him the question. He pulled it from their law, in Deuteronomy 6, “The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.”

So there, in Deuteronomy 6, the context again is that loving God has to do with whom? You’re loving God, and who are you sharing that with? The children. So, there is always this context of the people around you. Loving God was never a solo issue. It was always two parts. Loving God and loving people. They’re inseparable: a two-part mandate.”

Like Lincoln, we have a twofold mandate and two source materials. As we continue, it might be helpful to think of it this way. First, we have a mission mandate based on our written source material, the Bible. Second, we have a motive mandate based on our heart source material, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

What’s Your Mandate?

An American family Bible dating to 1859.

An American family Bible dating to 1859.

I love Abraham Lincoln. I love the fact that he had a clear mandate that guided everything he said and did. His mandate was twofold. One was to preserve the nation, and one was to end slavery. Lincoln had two sources for guiding his decision making. One was the law and the constitution, and the other was something profound in his heart. We have a mandate and ours is twofold as well. This is a surprising parallel because our mandate is in Mark chapter 12 from the mouth of Jesus, and the guy talking with him was a lawyer. The guy didn’t say, “Give me your mandate.” Instead, he said to Jesus, “What is the most important of all the commandments?” Jesus’ answer went straight to the law, and then straight to the heart.

Abraham Lincoln’s Talking Coat

Detail of the coat Abraham Lincoln wore everywhere, including the evening he was assassinated

Detail of the coat Abraham Lincoln wore everywhere, including the evening he was assassinated

As I watched the movie Lincoln (2012), I cheered in my spirit as I saw Lincoln’s simple humanity and how he wrestled with the seemingly impossible questions that shaped the current events of his day.

It was a difficult time to be an American, let alone the president. Yet as Lincoln faced the excruciating presidential decisions he had to make, he always seemed to arrive at a level of certainty about what he was supposed to accomplish.

I left the movie wondering to myself, How did Lincoln find such certainty in the midst the turmoil that surrounded his life?

Because the movie had to preserve the audience’s attention, the question of Lincoln’s inner machinery was left largely unexplored. True, there were a few moments when the storyline tried to gaze into the inner working of his heart, but ultimately the script writers chose not to explore the space of Lincoln’s inner process.

Thankfully, students of Lincoln know he left substantial clues about how he stood immovable despite the storms of civil war and political intrigue. One of the biggest clues was hiding inside of his coat.

President Lincoln was hardly ever seen without his great coat. It was a three quarters length overcoat custom made for Lincoln by Brooks Brothers. From the outside it was nice enough, but on the inside of the back lining we learn what shaped Lincoln in what proved to be his final years.

If you look inside Lincoln’s coat, which resides in the Ford Theater museum, you will find these words embroidered on the back lining: “One Nation, One Destiny.” The words are on a scroll held in the beak of a bald eagle, the symbol of America.

In four words, Lincoln summed up what was behind his presidency. In these four words he tells us, and more importantly told himself, how he would sort out the events, the demands, and the questions that threatened to swallow up his life.

From that embroidered panel, which followed Lincoln wherever he went, we can safely conclude several important things about America’s 16th president. First, he understood the power of big ideas. Second, he knew how to eliminate the noise of excess words and thoughts that so often obscure critical guiding truths. Third, once he reduced everything to four words, he took deliberate steps to make sure he never let those big truths slip through his hands.

If Lincoln were around today, I wonder if he would have skipped the embroidery and just went all-out for a tattoo. I can see him in a cabinet meeting filled with wrangling subordinates, suddenly bringing order by rolling up his sleeve and saying in a resolute voice, “Gentlemen, read the arm.”

What can we take away from Lincoln’s example? First, I think all of us can agree that we, like Lincoln, are facing confounding circumstances and questions shaped by the current events of our day. Although we may not live in the midst of civil war and assassination plots, most of us would agree that our lives feel destabilized by the events that make up our world today. Is it possible that we, like Lincoln, need to revisit the core guiding truths that shape our lives? Could we, like Lincoln, hone these truths to their plainest immovable words and ideas, and then recommit ourselves to living by these guiding truths?

Fortunately, for the Christian, we don’t have to go searching for a political or legal mandate. We have a leader, greater than any president, who already has sorted the words and ideas that swirl around our lives. He has already clearly pointed us to the irreducible words and central idea that defines who we are and how we are to navigate in our world. We find our leader and His mandate for life in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12, verses 28-34.

 28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 29“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 32“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Reading these words, and understanding the context in which Jesus spoke them, gives us a great starting point to follow Lincoln’s example of great ideas expressed in few words.

Consider the following questions as you try to design a mandate that will help you sort out the circumstances, questions, and demands that you face in your life.

1. Jesus didn’t make up the words He used to answer the lawyer’s question. The majority of them are found in Deuteronomy 6. Take a minute and read the first twelve verses of this chapter. What do they tell you about repeating your mandate? Do you think there was a bit of God’s wisdom in Lincoln’s decision to embroider his mandate into the back of his coat? Do you think it is necessary to physically display important ideas today? If so, what are some ways to do that?

2. Can you shorten the words of Mark 12:28-34? Did Jesus ever use a shorter version of this mandate?

3. When you think of loving God, is it helpful to consider what you know about how love acts, speaks, feels, etc. in a healthy human relationship? (For example when we love another person we spend time together.) See how many attributes you can list of a healthy love relationship between two people, and then ask yourself if they apply to loving God. Did Jesus demonstrate any of these “common love” practices in His relationship with God?

4. If being a lover is our mandate—first a lover of God, and second a lover of people—how important is it to clearly define what love looks like in real time? Have you ever read the Scriptures or prayed with this question in mind? If so, what was your experience? If not, are you willing to make this experience yours today?

Abraham Lincoln's coat stil is on display in the Ford Theatre

Abraham Lincoln’s coat stil is on display in the Ford Theatre Museum