As we look at the first of the four core competencies, it is important to remember that they are not sequential. For example, a believer does not accomplish one the competencies and then moves on to another. In a believer's quest to become a fully devoted follower of Christ all four of these competencies should be growing, maybe not always at the same pace depending on the current life situation of the believer, but there should be some constant change. The growth a Christian will never be stagnant. The act of spending time with God will cause a believer to grow. The opposite is also true that any time spent away from communing with God will cause a believer to begin to backslide. We serve a God who is unapologetic about his jealousies towards us. He is jealous because he knows the best thing a believer can do is turn over to him the totality of their being.
In following with the flow of Mark 12:30 we see that God wants believers to love him with all their heart. The heart is the control center for the body's cardiovascular system. It pushes through our bodies the very thing that allows us to have life. Without hearts, our bodies stop working. From a symbolic perspective, the heart is what matters most to you. It’s what drives you to get up in the morning. It’s what holds you up when everything else is falling down. Simply put, it’s how you live.
Jesus talked a good deal about the things that are important to him. One thing of note is his bride, the church. Symbolically for Christians the church has come to represent a launching pad for ministry. The place that God loves is where Christians are trained to influence their community by engaging their world. Mark 12:30 says that we must love the Lord with all of our heart, and if we are striving to be like Christ then our hearts should reflect the same desires of God’s-that is to see his church mobilized to love people and to make him known.
The core competency of doing ministry and missions is what should drive the believer. When a person falls in love with ministry and missions, they get to experience a pathway to spiritual growth that takes them beyond the carnal knowledge of God to the experience of God. As church leaders, one of our most important tasks is to help people fall in love with the idea of serving others.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see him going to the sick person, touching the leper, and being with tax collectors. That was not because he did not have the power to influence them from a distance, but because Jesus was teaching his followers the importance of being with people and doing ministry within the context of relationships.
Maybe it’s a keeping the nursery at church or feeding the homeless at a soup kitchen, whatever it is a person who is endeavoring to become a fully devoted follower must be taught the importance of being involved in a ministry that God has equipped them. Ministry leaders need to understand that people serving within their body are not just providing volunteer hours, but they are doing the training necessary to being a fully devoted follower.