Jesus says the greatest commandment is “Love the Sovereign your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30). The first five of the Ten Commandments pertain to our relationship with God and the second five to our relationship with people (Exodus 20: 2-17; Deuteronomy 5: 6-21). Covenant with God and covenant with humanity are the core biblical witness. The activity of the first five commandments is geared toward love of God: Mary—the other five to love of people: Martha (for the Mary and Martha story see Luke 10:38-42).
Abraham Lincoln attended a Presbyterian church in Springfield, Illinois and later in Washington, D.C., but never joined a church. He explained, “When any church will inscribe over its altar the Savior’s condensed statement of law and Gospel: ‘Thou shalt love God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and love thy neighbor as thyself.’ That church I will join with all my heart.”
The love of God recognizes and fans the Christ light within. The love of neighbor recognizes the Christ light in all people. In the former, I treat myself with respect and care and recognize myself as a child of God. I listen deeply for the promptings of the Spirit. I cherish my soul, which is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). I lean in to hear the still small voice of my God given conscience. In the latter, I treat others with respect and care and recognize them as children of God, listening deeply in order to understand how best to serve. I non-anxiously hang on their every word, giving them my undivided attention and sending the clear message: you are child of God. You matter to me!