Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Matthew 22:37-38

Jesus echoed the words spoken by Moses (Deuteronomy 6:5) just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Christ called this the greatest commandment—to love God with our entire being. We are challenged to love God with each part of ourselves—our thoughts, our emotions, our bodies, and our souls. Our society focuses heavily on health—physical health, emotional health, mental health—but we must remember that our spiritual health is at the core of who we are.

In this issue of the Epistle, we unpack the connection of faith to mind, body, and soul, and offer food for thought on how we can live a holistic Christian life. Holistic is characterized by the understanding that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and only fully understandable by reference to the whole. In short, holistic is simply “all.” While you meditate on these ideas, we ask you to also consider how you can love God with your all— “all your heart… all your soul… all your mind.”

A desire for control is ingrained in our human nature. We may hold onto it for a variety of reasons. Some of us may feel ashamed, wanting to hide the parts of us that we believe are too ugly. We may carry fears around our neck like an albatross. This human life is burdened with failures and frailties, and our hearts become heavy-laden. Our need to feel in control may cause us to misguidedly hold on to things that Jesus has asked us to hand over to Him. When we refuse to give all our love to Him because of the things we hold on to, we do not walk in the freedom He promises.

The thought of vulnerability can be terrifying; we do not want the world to see us in total, and this can carry over into our faith. While we know that God sees everything… knows everything about us…we still struggle with the desire to try to hide things from Him. We simply need to open our hearts when we hear Him say, “Come, follow me.” Jesus not only erases our fears, He takes our burdens upon Himself. He knows what it is to be human; He wept, and He prayed, and He suffered. If we believe that Jesus walked this human experience for us, then we must know that He is worthy of our trust… and trust is at the core of holistic faith.

Jesus modeled this complete faith for us by living out the first and greatest commandment perfectly. He loved His Father totally. He held nothing back. Jesus loved His Father in all that He said and everything that He did. He surrendered, completely, every part of Himself. A life of vulnerability to God and trust in His Word is how we open ourselves to loving our Creator with our all.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15