Posted by George Morrison

Followers of this blog will realise that this has been a pretty special week for all associated with Grace Church in Pearse Street, Dublin. It’s not every week that so many good things come together. To recap they were our Jubilee – 50 years in existence, the 20th year of our leader, Patrick Mullen’s ministry and the taking over of new church premises, at no cost to ourselves, funded from the sale of airspace above the old building.
As was fit and proper there was plenty of joy and gratitude to God last Sunday to mark the occasion. The Psalmist captures it well in the opening verses of Psalm 103
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
There was also the sense that we were only bystanders watching God at work. His grace (god giving us what we do not deserve) was appreciated and responded to with music and singing. It was an exceptional time and we thank God for it.

There is a danger, of course, that our love for God becomes conditional on our receiving his benefits! So much of our daily interaction with others falls into that category. But loving those who love you is not the whole story. Jesus said; “‘You have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies” (St Matthew Chapter verse 43).

That set the bar very high prompting one enquirer to ask Jesus a question. Here is the dialogue; “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbour as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly” (St Luke Chapter 10 verses 26/28).

This fourfold love of God, “all your heart, soul, strength and mind” is not dependent on getting a new hall or any of the many other benefits! It is a love for God Himself.
This command (the Shema) was given to the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. It was part of their article of faith (Deuteronomy Chapter 6 verse 5).
It requires the total devotion of one’s whole being. This love is not to be divided between other gods or idols (Exodus Chapter 20 verses 3 and 4).
The old doxology puts it well –
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.