What Is the Most Important Thing You Can Do In Your Relationship With God?
One day Steve sent me an email and asked, “Pat, what is the most important thing a man can do in his relationship with God?”
Since we had a publishing relationship, I wasn’t quite sure if he was asking for professional or personal reasons. So I replied, “Who wants to know and why?”
He wrote back, “Me.”
I asked, “Well, how do you see it? What do the Scriptures say about what is the most important thing a man can do in his life?”
I’ve posed that same question to live audiences and asked them to shout out their answers, which cover the gamut: love, service, obedience, worship, prayer, faithfulness, reading the Bible, and so on. How about you? How do you see it?
Thankfully, Jesus has not left us to answer this question to the best of our ability.
In Mark 12:28, a teacher of the law, noticing that Jesus had given a good answer during a debate, asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Isn’t this teacher’s question simply another way of asking Steve’s question?
My favorite kind of verses are WONK verses: Is there something we learn from this text that we Would Otherwise Not Know? Jesus gave the teacher of the law a singular, powerful WONK answer.
He said, “The most important one is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30, conflated).
I see three things in this text: clarity, intensity, and relationship.
- First, clarity. From the pantheon of good things we can do, loving God is above everything else.
- Second, intensity. We are to bring an intensity to the loving of God. We are to love him with the sum of our strength, every ounce of our energy, and the totality of our being.
- Third, relationship. Loving God is a relationship, not a task. When Mary and Martha welcomed Jesus into their home, Martha was distracted by her work in the kitchen (diakonia). But Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words (logos).
When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her, He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
So what’s the most important thing you can do in your relationship with God?
Mary first. There will be plenty of time to Martha.