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From Alan and Deb Hirsch’s New Book “Untamed”

This is a pre-release passage from Alan and Deb Hirsch’s new book, Untamed. In it, Alan and Deb explore the meaning and practice of following Jesus. Each chapter ends with a suggested practice from the principle it proposes. They not only give you the idea, but a way to work it out in real life. Untamed is due to be released Monday, Feb 22  by Baker. Check out the book review page for more info and endorsements.

One Love—Shema Spirituality

The Shema is a major theme throughout the book, hence a small explanation of why this is the case. (Alan and Deb)
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…how can we ensure we have a true understanding of God? Or even better, how can we know God? We believe Jesus is the answer and points us in the right direction when he says,
“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” [and] “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29–31)

The power of Shema spirituality, or what Scot McKnight creatively calls “the Jesus Creed,” sums up the central revelation of God in Scripture and provides us with a worldview in a sentence. In other words, it is not just a simple description of what true worship means (and it is that), but also a description of a disciple’s basic orientation to the world.

• The Shema contains the revelation that God is one.

• The Shema shows us that God wants to be loved and worshiped in every aspect of life and with all of our being. The clear implication is that nothing in life, culture, and the human experience lies outside of this all-encompassing claim. No false dualisms, no sacred- secular splits—all of our lives, including our sexuality, work, play, home, politics, and economics, can, and indeed must, become aspects of our worship to the One True God.

• The Shema is expanded by Jesus to explicitly include the love of people, for it has always been a temptation of “religious” people to see religion as purely devotion toward God. Jesus will not allow this. Discipleship in the way of Jesus must include the love of people.

Furthermore, we suggest that Shema-spirituality helps us do the following:

• Rediscover the true nature of worship (we must love one God, not many—no idols and images, please)

• Learn what it means to love God in and through the whole of life (with intellect, passion, family, culture, money, sexuality, and so on)

• Understand our relationship to the world and our obligation to “the other” (we can never come to a true discipleship in isolation from the love of people)

• Recover an authentically monotheistic worldview, out of which we can rightly interpret our world (operating with a unified worldview around the kingship of God)

The Ten Commandments show us this truth. The first three of the ten have to do with one God and the prohibition of idolatry. The fourth has to do with the sanctification of time, thereby safeguarding the God-relationship. The rest of the commandments move straight into what it means to live together without killing each other—straight into ethics, or lifestyle! No grand philosophies, no eloquent speeches . . . just holy living in the whole of life-under-God.

In contrast, the Western spiritual tradition has tended to limit discipleship to issues relating to our personal morality, thereby neglecting our missional involvement in the world. But discipleship must include both and everything in between. We would argue that if we truly understood Shema spirituality, we wouldn’t even have to talk about mission because it is all contained in the primal confession—loving God and loving others as ourselves! To worship God involves loving God in all and every arena of life. Mission is implicit throughout the creed. And discipleship in the way of Jesus is all about living out the Shema. It is missional to the core! Hence, no mission, no discipleship.

Excerpts taken from, Alan and Debra Hirsch, Untamed, p.28-9 and 63-4