Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
DEUTERONOMY 6:4-8 (ESV)
One of the most important concepts in Christianity is incarnation, the embodiment of the invisible and transcendent in something visible and physical and here. God cares about bodies, so much that He came down in one to be with us, communicating His love in a way we couldn’t ignore or doubt. God spoke to us in our native tongue: body language.
The Hebrew word for “soul” in the Shema references the body at worship. The Israelites were used to worshiping this way – voices singing loudly, heads bowing reverently, hands serving humbly. Their worship identified them as God’s people. It was testimonial activity. In the Israelites’ physical response, devotion became a way to recapture God’s design for mankind to be bearers of His image in the world around them. Among the outsiders there was no mistaking what they saw: these worshipers were the people of the Hebrew God.
Think about how you express the internal today. How do you show anger, sadness, joy? How do you communicate love or trust or fear? You do it with action. We shout at people when we’re mad. When we are in the throes of heartbreak and at a loss for words, tears come to talk for us. When we are joyful, we smile and laugh, often as an invitation for others to join us.
Every day we do a hundred subtle things that reveal our feelings and motivations and faith. Each of us will follow a schedule today taking for granted the car won’t break down and render the whole thing useless. We organize budgets believing calamity won’t strike to tear them all down. Restaurants are filled with people trusting the food won’t make them sick despite never seeing inside the kitchens.
If someone were to “read” a day in your life and follow the narrative of your waking to your sleeping, he would have a great picture of what you believe and in what you believe. He would know what you trust, what you care about. He would see what angers you by observing when your brow furrows or your teeth clench. He would learn what you love by hearing what words of sweetness you save and for whom you save them. Right now your body is telling the story of your heart without you ever sitting down to write a word.
God knows this, of course. It’s why He tells us to love Him with all our bodies. It’s also why He detests fake religion and false piety. God is consistent, ordered, whole. He expects that His people follow that example.
What God wants is faithfulness, inside and out. In the life of Christ, from birth to death to resurrection, we have the clearest revelation of God’s heart for us. He has told us and shown us that He is sovereign and loving; He wants us to live like we believe Him. If we really do trust in God’s goodness, then shouldn’t we proclaim it? Shouldn’t we sing about it loudly and let out an Amen! when we hear about it in a sermon? And outside of our gatherings, shouldn’t this goodness of God guide the steps of our paths? Shouldn’t it fill the words of our conversations and the work of our hands?
Just as we prepare our hearts for worship, so too should we prepare our bodies. We were made to receive and to believe God, so we come to worship needy. We come open and expectant. But every heart is also a two-way system, taking in and sending out the gift of life. We are designed to receive, yes, but we are also designed to respond. The God who made true love real forms us in His image so we might do the same.
God I believe You are who You say You are. I believe that You are good and sovereign and loving. Open my eyes today to the many opportunities You give to make my faith alive in the world around me. Show me the choices I make and the words I say that are not consistent with a heart after You. Expose the idols that drive my wayward actions as the unworthy temptations they are. Give me strength today to live a Kingdom life. AMEN.
Study your daily routine. What does it say about you? What gives you joy? What robs you of it? As you reflect, consider what it would take to live more intentionally today. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Choose words well. Take each task as a Kingdom opportunity.