Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What is a Shema statement?

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [Deu 6:4 ESV]
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [Deu 6:5 ESV]
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [Deu 6:6 ESV]
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. [Deu 6:7 ESV]
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [Deu 6:8 ESV]
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. [Deu 6:9 ESV]

This is the famous “shema statement” which is was one of the main recitation and meditations for Jews in the Old Testament.  Many Jews would pray this several times a day similar to how Muslims constantly pray and repeat “shahada”.  I was out sharing at Perspectives classes in Nebraska and started hanging out in this passage in Deuteronomy.  It gets back to basics, “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul mind, and strength”.  Jesus said that this sums up the Old Testament (law).  What impresses me is how YHWH wanted his people to diligently teach this to their children, talk about it at home, when traveling, when waking up and when going to bed.  He wanted them to write it on their hand, between their eyes, and on their homes and gates.  What I took away from this is that we need to constantly be reminded of our mission “love God, love others” because it is so easy to get distracted and wrapped up in other missions and distracted by the things of this world.

I had never picked up on the verses that immediately follow the “shema”:

"And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you--with great and good cities that you did not build, [Deu 6:10 ESV]
and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant--and when you eat and are full, [Deu 6:11 ESV]
then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. [Deu 6:12 ESV]

It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. [Deu 6:13 ESV] 

Sounds a little bit like least my upbringing in an upper-middle class Suburban family where I lived in "good cities", "good houses", had "good things", and could "eat and be full".  The politics, entertainment, money, technology, food, information, and busyness of this "promised land" are brutal to staying "on mission" and keeping God's glory at the forefront.  God told Israel that they needed to be reminded over and over to "put first things first" because they were about to go into the Promised Land where life would be easy...."lest you forget!"  I find it much easier to get distracted in the US than when I was serving in mountain villages in Mexico with slow internet, no cell phone, no TV, no kids soccer practice, no fill in the blank...  What will it look like in the 21st century for me to have the "shema" as a part of my morning, my evening, my family, my coming, my going, and my household?  What have you found to be helpful in living a "shema" lifestyle in a context of so many distractions?