“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”
The command to Love God first and foremost and not worship other gods, is directly connected to our understanding of God in His Tri-Personal Being. (Gen.1:26-27; Exo.20:2-3; Deut.5:6-7; 1Pet.1:1-2) What do I mean? The first commandment is not something God plucked out of the air because He is narcissistic and self-serving. While God is Trinitarian, He reveals another side of His divine nature: Love! Love is always outgoing and never self-important. God’s Love is the embodiment of self-sacrifice never self-serving. John was inspired to record, “Whoever does not Love does not know God, because God is Love” (1 John 4:8). Jesus repeated the command in the New Testament, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luk.10:27). Rather the first commandment proceeds from God in His uncreated divine Being who is Love and Tri-Personal in the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. (Jud.1:20-21; Luk.3:21-22)
It’s only when we view the first commandment from the Trinitarian perspective that we are given to understand the meaning and rationale for what may appear authoritarian in its stance. I suppose we can say the law is given as a “commandment” because God’s Love-nature is ‘set in concrete’ so to speak, so God remains unchanged and constant in His nature and character. Humans are naturally impetuous and unwilling to comply with dictatorial decrees, but they become malleable and responsive when an edict is understood logically and credibly. This is a natural response which comes from our human freedom. I will have more to say about the gift of our God-given freedoms.
We know the command in its legalistic form under the old covenant has been superseded by the new covenant of grace in Christ and in the Spirit’s power as Paul asserts to the Romans, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (see Rom.8:1-4, NLT). With that said, be it the old or new covenant, the nature of God in His Trinitarian Love remains constant and unchanged. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb.13:8).
By being Triune in nature and substance, God can never be anything apart from who He is: Love! He saved humanity out of the richness of His Love. (John 3:16-17) Thereby, God, as three Persons in One Godhead exist as One Being inherently and internally in their Love for each other as John further affirms in Scripture, “And so we know and rely on the Love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). That is to say that all three Persons of the Godhead exist in each other in Love, and humans were created to participate in their Love. (Gen.1:26-27)
Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt.28:19).
So, the Trinity identifies who they are as unified Personal Beings (name/noun), and Love characterizes them in their relationship with each other (action/verb). Love is the substance they consist in, so that God is not ‘made’ of Love, but is Love in substance and reality. Of course, we use adjectives to further elaborate Love’s attributes like God is gracious, generous, protective, uplifting, forgiving, caring, compassionate, and so forth. They have divine life in themselves and in the One Triune Godhead all life spring for they are the fountain of true Life. Therefore Love, as a noun and as a verb, binds them into One Triune God. Consequently, they are inseparable and indivisible in their divine life. Because they are indispensably unified in each other, the act of one is always the act of three, and the act of three is always the act of one.
With Love as the substance of the divine life and activity, there has always been only one singular purpose for their existence, to devoutly Love one another. And that is how they have been from eternity. Jesus, in His prayer to the Father before His crucifixion, said this, “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). This reveal the desire of One of the Persons of the Trinity (Jesus) to have mankind see and participate in their glorious fellowship of holy Love.
In truth, there wasn’t anything besides or outside of the Godhead that could be said to distract from their Love of each other, because there was no other life form or reality apart from God. If there was another reality whether spiritual or physical, they had to spring from their Triune Being as Creator, for God alone possesses self-sustaining life and imparts physical or spiritual life to whomever He chooses. Until God created, there was nothing. God alone is uncreated. Whatever is created have no permanent but temporal existence, for only God is eternal and the uncreated reality. What is created has a beginning and an end. Try to imagine, if you can, God existing alone in His Tri-Personal Being from eternity. Nothing existed but the Triune God and they lived in the fullness of their Love for and in each other. The angelic hosts have not been created. The universe, this earth, and mankind have not been brought into physical existence. All that existed was the Father, the Logos/Word (Son), and the Holy Spirit. So I ask, who or what was there that would compete for God’s attention? There was absolutely nothing to distract them from their Love for each other? Nothing! For it is in this eternal place where God alone in His Trinitarian reality in the Father, Son, and Spirit lives, that He has called humans into His Triune fellowship.
“God is Love” (Wiki Commans)
This is the place of origin from which all life physical and spiritual finds its source and beginnings. This is the place of alpha (origin) as stated in Scripture, “In the beginning God…” (Gen.1:1a; John 1:1). God existed alone in His Triune Godhead. Then, Genesis continues, “…created the heaven and the earth” (Gen.1:1b). After conditioning the earth for human habitation with plant life and vegetation, and creating numerous non-human life forms, He then uttered the now famed words, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen.1:26-27, KJV). The place of alpha (origin) and the place of omega (end), is one and the same where God exists in His Triune Being with nothing nor any life-form but themselves in their eternal uncreated Godhead.
But out of their overflowing Love, they created humans with a grand plan. He invites mankind to share in their eternal existence of Love. God does not need man or anything He has created to exist as God. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have self-sustaining and self-fulfilling life in themselves. All they had from the beginning was each other, and will remain unchanged in the end. Everything spiritual or physical apart from their Tri-Personal Being originate from them, and thereby are extensions of their God-life through the creative acts. There is nothing in all creation which exists independently of itself, but all spring from His living Spirit. His Love envelopes all creation. (Psa.139; Job 38)
We saw God has self-sustaining life in Himself, but this is one vital element of His image He has not given humans – immortality. (2 Tim.1:9-10) At least, not yet. Instead, He created humanity from the dust of the ground and gave him physical life with chemical existence, and the potential of inheriting immortality through a resurrection like Jesus His Son. (Rom.6:5) He was created a physical being and given all the ‘paraphernalia’ so to speak, to survive as a human upon earth, namely, oxygenation, food, water, clothing and shelter, and be granted dominion over the earth in the likeness of his Creator’s sovereign rule and authority. It is a dominion man was given in which to administer the very Love of God with his fellowmen and the whole earth. (Rom.13:8) Mankind was supposed to live like the Triune God does and Love God and neighbor like He does in His Triune Life. (Matt.22:37; Luk.10:27) Thereby, this earth was given to man, that is to say each person regardless of origin or who they are, to choose his/her destiny. How do we choose to live this God-given material life? Do we choose to Love God above all else, like He does within the three Persons of the Trinity? His advice to us is, “Choose Life” (God/Love) (Deut.30:19).
In giving us free choice, He confers the gift of freedom upon humans. Freedom is the flip side of God’s Love, so Love always accompanies the gift of freedom. Without freedom Love is non-actionable, for freedom is the essence of Love. The Father, Son, and Spirit, freely choose to Love one other. It is from their Personal freedoms that humans are given the gift of freedom. They are not compelled to Love, but in their Tri-Personal freedoms choose to Love each other. Jesus came to bring us the gift of true freedom for the Bible states, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (john 8:36, NLT). The apostle Paul reiterates how the gift of freedom is given, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1).
If someone is compelled or pressured to love, then it is not true Love for it does not come with true freedom. He/she acts out of fear. Fear imprisons and disempowers people, whereas Love frees and empowers. The Scripture says plainly, “Perfect Love expels all fear” (1 John 4:18, NLT). So, you cannot have Love without freedom, nor freedom without Love. Hence, man is given a mind with the basic motivation to choose and to Love, or not to Love. The opposing way to Love is one of fear. There are only two choices, there is no middle ground. To make a choice means decision-making. No other species created by God was given to have the mind to make choices, except humans who were created in God’s likeness.
He commands us to choose to Love Him wholeheartedly above everyone and everything like He does in His Tri-Personal relationship with each other. The reason God (Love) commands us to Love Him first and Love Him last (alone) is because there is no other reality aside from His uncreated Tri-Personal Being. Every created life and matter whether spiritual or physical is fabricated (created) and temporal and becomes sin if we choose to worship them. God desires that we bank our lives on the only reality in all of creation and eternity that exists – God, and not on what’s fabricated and meant to be temporary and serve His ultimate purpose of the eternal reality we have in Christ His Son. So, Jesus asked a pertinent question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” The soul speaks of our eternal reality that’s reposed in the uncreated God through Jesus. God desires for humanity to choose Loving Him first and setting a solid foundation for life now and for eternity, keeping in mind that our reality and wholeness as a person is eternally and internally wired to the Love-likeness of the Triune God.
Man made in God’s Likeness: “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion” (Gen.1:26-27).
However, as physical human beings having cellular life, and needing all the material ‘paraphernalia’ to survive, God supplies them from His bounty. These are: food and water for physical sustenance, clothing for bodily cover and protection, shelter for shielding from the elements, our internal defensive mechanism for security and safety, material possessions to express our calling and gifts, and dominion to rule the earth in Love. All these are real issues in as far as how human life is regarded and valued. And here is where humans face a challenge where their relationship with God comes into question in terms of their priority in life. They may pose a problem as to what humans may consider more important and first in life: God or any one of these vital necessities of life (temporary), inconsequential compared to Love (true life). In other words, any one of these issues can be turned into gods and worshipped and loved above the true God. They become gods when we value them higher than the Triune God who alone is worthy of worship. For in worshipping God first we are actually serving our mutual interest first (Love/Trinitarian), for we are created in His likeness. However, human history has shown that in their fallen state of being, humans have worshipped the created instead of the Creator. (Rom.3:10)
I will continue this theme of Love in my next post, but I close with the following quote from Paul, keeping in mind God’s purpose of making man into His Love-image:
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t Love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t Love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but don’t Love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, or what I do, I’m bankrupt without Love” (1 Cor.13:1-3, The Message). Yes, without Love we are nothing and less than nothing – for “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16).
So we have seen how the first command came to be, it was given because God is Love in Himself, and that is how He has lived from eternity in fellowship with His Son (Jesus) and Spirit (Herald*) in their Trinitarian Godhead, and invites humanity into His fellowship of Love.
Finally, let us live our lives and be passionate about Paul’s admonition to us, “Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to Love one another” (Rom.13:8).
I will see you in my next post where we will see how God makes it possible for humans to enter His reality in His Love and Triune existence.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or you may email me on email@example.com. Thank you for visiting.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”** in the person of Jesus’ “Immanuel humanity.” Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
(Your Servant In Christ)
*Herald: the name I use in my personal relationship with the Holy Spirit
** “Triune Life” means to inherit human personhood identifying us as true persons with gifts in Christ and living according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27; Rom.8:29) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life in himself (“Adamic humanity”). It means to live in relationship with God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who lives and walks in you (“Immanuel humanity”). Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) This is a life of divine power. You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092, also at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036)
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website, www.bulamanriver.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and other book store sites where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living”
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Life Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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