Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Verse 4 is a very important Jewish prayer, called the Shema, offered at all Jewish prayer services. It begins a section of the Torah here that continues fully through the rest of the book of Deuteronomy. God's call is to obedience. In Deuteronomy 30:19 & 20, we hear the call. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Simply put, God is opening up to them the road to blessing. "Follow Me," He says, "and you will find it."
The call to obedience, I believe, however, can only be responded to as we respond to the call to love. When asked what is the greatest commandment, 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. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40)." In what we call Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Jesus even calls us to love our enemies. We can only love as we have been loved by God, our Father. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus also taught (John 15:9, 10), "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. Paul exhorts us to love in Romans 13:8-10, . . for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments. . . . are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.
One last call we hear in Deuteronomy, prompted by love also, is the call to "pass it on." Moses had served God well, but as the children of Israel approach the Promised Land, the baton is passed on to Joshua to lead them in to take possession. And in the passage beginning in chapter 6, God instructs His people to teach His Word to their children.
And so our call is to loving obedience. Our walk with God hinges on our love for Him. When Peter denied Jesus, to restore him, Jesus asked him a simple yet deep question, "Do you love me?" As we respond in love to the One who loves us perfectly, we can go this distance.