Whether it was Moses’s experience at Sinai or Jacob’s at Bethel or Isaiah’s in the Temple in Isaiah 6, they were all life altering encounters with the Most Holy God. And “each one walked away with a tangible new history – Moses knowing God’s name and purpose for Israel; Jacob with a promise of land and prosperity; and Isaiah with a promise to be sent as God’s personal emissary to the nations” (Kelso, Theological Violence in the 21st Century, 2021, p. 66). These were all glimpses into the Holy of Holies and the way man responds at the “fear of the LORD.” Infact, “the term the “fear of the Lord” (yir’ah/Yahweh) is an umbrella term describing the entire religion and experience of the ancient Hebrew faith and transported into the New Testament with the birth of Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14). It is a comprehensive term directly linked to one’s encounter with the absolute majesty of a Holy God” (Kelso, Theological Violence in the 21st Century, 2021, p. 66).
The “Shema,” an Israelite prayer, which was repeated multiple times a day by the Jewish people expresses how this Holy and Majestic God desired for His people to be in relationship with Him. It was not in some “flippant” lighthearted way. But to follow the examples of Moses, Jacob, and Isaiah, among others. Who had true encounters with the Most High God. In other words, an exclusive, all-encompassing fellowship between man and God. Here is the Shema: “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” (Deut. 6:4-5, emphasis mine). And so, this was God’s standard and framework in which to express His glory and our design. His “glory” because of His nature, or identity as LORD over all. And our “design” because beginning from the Garden of Eden God “created within us” the need to worship. And the need for intimacy with Himself. And so, if the Old Testament is a framework (which it is) for God’s interaction and communication between humanity and Himself. Being summarized in the Shema. And which is fully seen in Jesus’ relationship with His Father and now open to us through His cross and resurrection then we should “hear.” So, Jesus, being a devout Jew, recited the Shema multiple times a day. At the same time Jesus was the perfect picture of the “Shema” fleshed out. So here is the great question: If Jesus is our example, and He lived by the Shema, a prayer expressing an exclusive, all-encompassing relationship with the Father. Then how come so many “Christians,” which means “little Christ,” do not represent this picture? Meaning, they do not live a daily, all-encompassing relationship with God consisting of intimate fellowship with the Father like was expressed in God’s framework or model to the Jews through giving them the Shema to follow. Could it be that pastors have not correctly, or fully, expressed what a “Christian” is to their congregants in many churches?
So then, let’s define what a Christian truly is: A “Christian” biblically defined is one who has grasped ahold of Jesus Christ as both their Lord, meaning “Master,” and their Savior, meaning “Deliverer” from rebellion against Him due to sin and the consequences of their sin, being eternal death. This was accomplished by the gift of grace, and received through faith, meaning, “exclusive, all-encompassing” belief resulting in a transformed life from the inside out. Salvation by grace and received through faith was understood by the Apostles and early disciples to mean nothing less than the Shema. Because they understood and were therefore trying to communicate to us through the scriptures that this GIFT of salvation was SO incredible, because humankind could now fellowship with God without a priest and curtain dividing them. That that horrible thing called sin which brought separation between God and humanity, and which brought eternal death…had been reversed! It had been swallowed up by a suffering Savior! And this meant for them, and communicated to us in the scriptures, a gratitude expressed in nothing less than a sold out, full surrender, exclusive, all-encompassing bondage “slavery” to Jesus Christ as Lord even to suffering and death. Therefore, to be saved by grace and through faith means you no longer belong to … you. You are His forever as a Father is to a son, or a slave to his master, or as a bride to their groom. You are bound with God. In other words, it is “Shema.”
So, what if we are struggling to live as a Christian? First, you ask God to examine your heart and your priorities. That is the place to start. Then, you allow the Holy Spirit to bring to “light” or to surface, anything which needs immediate attention between you two. Christianity is a “daily walk.” It is a process of being made increasingly into the image of Jesus, through our cooperation with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in you is the key to everything in the Christian life. So, God is the perfect One in us who is sanctifying (making us Holy) through and through as we “HEED” His nudging’s and obey His Word and voice. This means, to follow Jesus we must know His Word and His Spirit. So that when … NOT if we stumble, we know the TRUTH. That we are not condemned, He is not angry with us. But He is our Father who desires to, and enables us to, get back up and walk with Him. We will stumble, we do sin, but we are loved by a gracious and merciful Father and Lord. And He is willing … with our cooperation, to make us like Jesus little by little. So, “walk with God” and be a Christian