When asked about the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus’ responded with what could be summed up in one word — LOVE (Matt. 22:36-40). As mentioned in a previous post about this being our greatest purpose, though only asked what He viewed as the greatest commandment, Jesus broke it down into the top two commandments:
#1 – Love God.
#2 – Love people.
It’s interesting that He didn’t stop with the greatest commandment only. The Old Testament verses quoted by Jesus do not mention both commands together. Why give more than He was asked, especially since the person asking was only trying to test Him?
- Perhaps these two commandments are so closely tied together that Jesus could not state one without the other. Love for God and love for people have to go hand in hand. Love for people spills out of our love for God. If you love God, you will love people.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 Jn. 4:8)
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 Jn. 4:20-21)
- Perhaps Jesus is letting us know that life in Him is not an either/or. When we accept Jesus into our life, we are placed into the Body of Christ. We first and foremost love Him but we also love one another.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (Jn. 15:12)
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 Jn. 3:23)
Church leaders have a major role in keeping the church on track in this two-fold purpose. You’ll find the above content in the Steering the Church Toward God’s Purposes Leadership Guide which also considers some implications of this truth for our church bodies and leaders.