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 strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
When Jesus is asked to sum up all of the Bible, he quotes the above scripture from Deuteronomy. For his followers, he is invoking this command that they would have read and heard every day of their lives. Their families would have impressed this on their hearts.
We all have a phrase or a mantra that we hold fast to and impress upon our children. Every start to a new school year, my father would remind us that “first impressions are lasting impressions” and that “his business was started with a handshake.” This embedded the concepts of integrity and character. My kids will undoubtably roll their eyes at my mantra of “There are two ways to do things: Hard->Easy or Easy->Hard.” Well…Deuteonomy 6:4-5 would have been God’s mantra for his people. They were to embed it into their hearts and impress it upon their children daily.
It was a reminder to embody the story of the Gospel into your daily rhythms of life. Scripture was not something to be studied or dissected or archived or used; it was something to be lived. “Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body. Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water”* that shock us to our senses and mobilize us for missions to all the world.
If you are reading the Bible cover to cover right now, then at this point of the year you should be entering the middle of Exodus. And if your eyes have not glazed over by now, they are about to. Even if you are following our Disciple-Making Bible reading plan, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of unchecked boxes before you.
However, spending time in God’s story takes time. It takes thinking about it when you get up in the morning, talking about it around the breakfast table, reflecting on it while you leave the house, pulling it out while you are in your office. It takes seeing it while you work and reflecting it to others who look at your life. Chewing on these words of abundant life, recoiling at the realization of our true nature, resting in the persistent grace of Christ demands daily discipline. So press forward (or if you have not started, press play).
“The Bible isn’t like other books. It requires patience. Reading the Bible is like meeting a fascinating person: it takes time to get to know him or her. The more impatient we have become as a society, the more our relationships have suffered. Patience is at the core of any great relationship, because it takes patience to listen and really understand the heart of another person. The Bible helps us know the heart of God and the heart of man. That takes time and patience.”^
*Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book, 18.
^Matthew Kelly, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity.