In part one of this two-week focus on the Shema, we concluded that since there is one God who has revealed Himself to us through Scripture, He alone is worthy of our worship. When attending the Student Weekend this past weekend, the speaker gave the following definition of worship.
“Worship is being preoccupied with God and nothing else.”Pastor Jay Sanders
The only picture I could think of after hearing that definition of worship was Mary at Jesus’ feet. While there were many things she could have been doing to help her sister, as indicated by Martha’s request of Jesus, she was preoccupied with sitting at Jesus’ feet, learning from Him, communing with Him, and, as a byproduct submitting all of herself to Him while at His feet (Luke 10:38-42). Deuteronomy 6:4 told us why our Triune God is worthy of our total devotion and why we ought to sit at His feet, and this week we see what is involved in being sold out to Him.
Whether you love Tom Brady, hate Tom Brady, or are indifferent towards Tom Brady as a now former NFL quarterback, the following description of Brady from former NFL player and now sports commentator, Mark Schlereth, from 2018 describes a commitment level of a player most desirable for any organization desiring to win. During a panel discussion on Fox’s “First Things First,” in 2018, the host asked Mark: “How remarkable is Tom Brady’s run?”
It’s incredible … [Brady is not] sated by success, I think that’s the most impressive thing to me. To continue to … prepare, to continue to grind. [Brady’s] quote is: “If you want to beat me you better be ready to lose your life because I’ve already given up mine.“
[Brady’s former backup quarterback] said the thing I learned most from Tom Brady is playing quarterback is not a job; it’s a lifestyle. And you gotta be willing to commit your life to it. And to be able to commit your life, to playing the game the way he has played it, and to have that much passion for it, without ever been sated by it.
He wakes up, and it’s all about what am I going to do today to be the best quarterback I can be for this organization. That means diet. That means exercise. That means hydration… And Sundays aren’t the problem… Monday through Saturday that’s the problem. You get to a point somewhere in your career: “I don’t want to prepare anymore. If I could just show up on Sundays that would be great. But I don’t want to go through the grind, the grind of preparing to get to Sunday.” He still eats that grind for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed.”
When you realize how committed Brady was to playing quarterback for the Patriots (and later the Buccaneers), it is no wonder he is considered the greatest football player of all time. Of course, that statement is always up for debate, and after all, records are made to be broken. Still, this ESPN article that accounts for all of Tom’s records is so long that I didn’t even try to include them as part of this post, and when taken together, make an overwhelming deniable case for him being the G.O.A.T.! If I were Robert Kraft, I couldn’t ask for anything more from my quarterback than the total commitment of Tom Brady as the Patriots’ star player, as described above. However, no matter how inspirational or admirable Brady’s devotion was to the game that made him a household name, it is misplaced devotion. Yet, despite being misplaced, the level of commitment Brady had toward playing quarterback in the NFL is the type of devotion that God calls us to in our relationship with Him.
“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
I highlighted a few phrases from the commentary about Brady that, if applied to our walk with Jesus, would change everything about that walk from experiencing His presence to exponentially being used by Him to make Him known. Yet the one quote of Tom’s that I want to hone in on is the following,
“If you want to beat me you better be ready to lose your life because I’ve already given up mine.“
This statement is one of total devotion. These words describe a man of focus. Tom laid his life down so that he could pick up whatever diet, exercise regiments, drills, film, etc., it took to become the best. Tom was a man sold out to the game of football, and it mirrors how we ought to be devoted to God. God called His people to love Him supremely. When we love Him with ALL of our heart, soul, and strength, there is nothing left over for any other god in our lives.
God required Israel’s unshakable commitment to Him and love of Him because that was the only correct response to God’s immovable commitment to them and love for them as their covenant God. They were to demonstrate their love of God by obeying His commands, for it was only by obeying His commands that they could love Him correctly and supremely. God gave His people His commands so they could know how to love Him correctly. In a way, His covenant commands revealed His love language to His people.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the Lord your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. 13 And you must always obey the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.
The Israelites’ love for God was manifested through their obedience to His ways.
Obedience is how we demonstrate our love for God today.
(Jesus said) If you love me, obey my commandments.
His revealed commands reveal to us how to correctly express our love for Him.
It’s sadly been several years since I’ve been fishing with a particular friend of mine, but when we first went fishing together, he told me about a specific bait that bass couldn’t resist. Taking him at his word, I bought some, and there seems to be something about the bait that bass find irresistible. Just like a well-placed and selected bait lures an unexpecting fish to being hooked, the world lures us by tempting us to compartmentalize our faith. We may be willing to obey God’s commands in one area of our lives yet justify our disobedience in another. Yet, like yeast permeates a clump of dough, leaving none of it unaffected, the Gospel is to saturate every area of our lives, leaving no space unchanged by its power. Like Brady devoting himself to football, more than just on Sundays, we, as followers of Jesus, are called to a level of devotion that extends infinitely further than showing up for a couple of hours at church on Sunday mornings. God demands and is worthy of our love, demonstrated by total obedience in every area of our life, every second of our lives.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
Brady gave up his life for 23 years as he sought to become the best player in NFL history. His commitment to becoming the greatest is admirable, and his efforts paid off in this area of his life. Tom loved football with ALL of his heart, with all of his inner man. He made his decisions based on his supreme love of football and his goal of being the best player. His mind was probably occupied for the majority of the time with trying to understand his opponents better so he could better exploit their weaknesses or how to improve his team’s play as well as his own, or preparing for a game to begin by focusing his mind and clearing it of any distractions. Brady trained his body through diet, exercise, and adequate sleep. He cared for and trained his body so that he could play the game with all the strength and skill his body could exert.
For over two decades, Tom Brady gave up his own way and took up the way of football, following his dreams and goals. The comments made by teammates and sports commentators speak of a man who laid down his life so that he could be fully committed to a lifestyle conducive to becoming the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Yes, Tom was a man completely sold out to football. Even though his accomplishments and awards are impressive, to say the least, they will one day fade away. May we who run for a crown that does not fade run the race with at least the same level of discipline and purpose that athletes like Brady have as they compete for temporary fame and awards (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). May we desire to love God supremely and demonstrate our love for Him by completely obeying His commands, or as in the words of Jesus, picking up our cross and following Him.
In summary, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) teaches us that there is one God, so we are to love Him supremely. We show God our love for Him by our obedience to His commands. He has given us His commands so that we might know Him but also know how to express our total love to Him correctly. With these truths in mind, I pray,
“Father, help me, help Your people, love you with all we are, demonstrated through our obedience to You, so that others may comment about our pursuit of You, similar comments which were said of Tom Brady’s pursuit of being the greatest football player of all time. Not for our glory but that others might behold Your glory and know You through Your Son.”