3 Responsibilities in the Shema

Today, I started teaching Youth and Family Ministry to my first year students at the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary. There are a few basic theological principles behind the class, and none is more important than the mandate that God gave Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

The Shema (click here to hear it sung), as it is known, is one of the most important Jewish prayers. It declares that there is one God, and then it goes on to talk about 3 responsibilities.

  • Personal Responsibility: Each person is to love God with all their heart, soul, and strength. It is a personal responsibility to have this command on our hearts. We cannot fulfill the other two responsibilities without first fulfilling this one.
  • Family Responsibility: We are to “impress” it on our children. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children about God. Interestingly enough, the responsibility does not fall on the church (although I believe the church helps the parents with their responsibility).
  • Social Responsibility: Writing them on the gates of the city is about the responsibility we have to share with the community about God.

I believe these responsibilities are in the order they are in for a reason. We cannot expect our children to love God if we do not love him. We cannot “preach” to the community if our families are not examples of loving God. There’s a lot more to be said, but it’s the basis of Youth and Family Ministry. We had a good discussion about this in class this morning.