(photo of the building of the Ephesus Church of Christ in Athens, AL, where Robert Fudge currently labors as a gospel preacher)
“TO LOVE THE LORD”
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…soul…strength…and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Lk. 10:27)
INTRO.: A hymn which helps us to understand what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves is “To Love the Lord” (#448 in Hymns for Worship Revised). The text was co-written by Robert Clarence Fudge, who was born on Oct. 23, 1948, in Lester, AL, the son of Benjamin (Bennie) Lee and Sybil Belle (Short) Fudge, and raised in the Athens, AL, area. Bennie Lee was a gospel preacher and the owner and manager of the C.E.I. Store in Athens. Robert married Reba Dianne Gravitt in 1967, and they have one son, Robert Clarence Fudge II. The text was co-written and the tune was composed both by Roy Joseph (R.J.) Stevens (1927-2012). In the mid 1980s, Robert was living in Decatur, AL, and attending the Sommerville Road church of Christ.
Stevens came there and taught on singing. During his Sunday morning lesson he made the comment that he had never seen a song on the first and great commandment. Fudge went home and wrote one that afternoon and brought it back to him that evening. Stevens provided the music, changing a few of the words to fit the music; thus his name is listed as co-author. The song was ready to sing by the middle of that week. Later it was copyrighted in 1986 and first published in the 1987 Hymns for Worship edited by Stevens and Dane K. Shepard. It is the only song written by Fudge that has been published. Fudge currently serves as minister with the Ephesus church of Christ near Athens, AL. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church for use in churches of Christ, so far as I know, the hymn is found only in Hymns for Worship.
The song explains why it is so important to love the Lord and one’s neighbor.
I. Stanza 1 talks about loving the Lord
To love the Lord with heart and soul,
To love Him with the mind,
Fulfills the first and great command;
In Him true peace I find.
- When asked a question, Jesus pointed to the command to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind: Deut. 6:5
- He said that this was the first and great commandment: Matt. 22:36-38
- It is only by loving God and trusting Him that we can find true peace: Phil. 4:6-7
II. Stanza 2 talks about loving our neighbor
To love my neighbor as myself
To love him fervently,
Fulfills the royal law of love
And sets my spirit free.
- The second great commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves: Lev. 19:18
- This is referred to in scripture as the royal law: Jas. 2:8
- It is only by obeying God’s law, which includes this provision, that we can be free from the law of sin and death: Rom. 8:2
III. Stanza 3 talks about the importance of loving the Lord and our neighbor
To love my neighbor and my Lord
With all my heart and soul
Fulfills the prophets and the law
And makes my spirit whole.
- Jesus combined these two commandments as the first and the second: Mk. 12:29-31
- Obeying these two commandments fulfills all the law and the prophets: Rom. 13:8-10
- Doing this will make our spirits whole because the Lord said that if we do this we shall live: Lk. 10:28
CONCL.: The chorus then encourages us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind.
I love the Lord with heart and soul;
I love Him with my mind.
In Him I’ll live while ages roll;
In Him true peace I find.
In this life, we have many responsibilities in the various relationships which we sustain. However, all of us, especially Christians, need to remember that our first and foremost responsibility before everything else is “To Love the Lord.”