When Jesus lays out this command to love God in Mark 12:29, notice two things. First, Jesus is citing a prayer that the Jewish community still recites today, call the Shema. It is from Deuteronomy 6 and is an anthem and a call to the purpose of God’s people, which is to be a people who are in loving relationship with God and that our primary affections in life should be be directed to Him.
Secondly, this is also a call to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength. Simply put this means that we are to be willing to devote everything to this one pursuit in our lives, all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength, which means our entire being. This is a call by God to make Him the center, not the 1001 things that can distract us and consume us weak in and week out.
This is more than coming on Sunday religion or tuning into on the Christian radio for a short burst of inspiration. This is an all-consuming fire that doesn’t leave a part of my life untouched by God. King David, understood this when he cried out in Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way O Lord, that I may walk in your truth… give me an undivided heart” or as another translation put it, “unite my heart that I may walk reverently before you.”
And undivided heart or a heart of unity that doesn’t keep God on the periphery or invites Him in only when things are difficult. That is what the Bible calls hypocrisy and it never works, it only makes us weaker, more anxious and unsure of our relationship with God. Loving God with all our hearts means putting Him first, and when we do that we then discover one of the primary reasons we were created, to be in relationship with Him!