Summary: ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Relationship vs. Fellowship

When God created humanity, He had two overarching purpose in mind: Relation and Fellowship. There is much confusion about these two terms, if you can grasp the truth of these two simple thoughts, you will be more firmly grounded in your intimacy with God. There is a big difference between the two. One is a matter of birth. The other is a matter of choice. The Bible, the world's most read book, sets forth the greatest story ever told. It is a love story unlike no other, underscored by the countless demonstrations of God's love for man. No strong relationship happens without challenges, struggles, storms, and sacrifice. We are all different and would see things differently many times on various issues. For us to have a strong relationship we would need to focus more on the things that unite us than on those that disunite us. We must learn to see the good in the other person, their strengths more than their weaknesses. We need to see them through the eyes of God. This is why a relationship with God is so important else you would relate with people for the wrong reasons and when that basis is eroded the relationship is ruined.

The cross is one of the world's most visibly recognized icons with its vertically pointing element representing this ideal union between God and man. It is the intersecting horizontal plane symbolizing the day-to-day relationships among humans that especially benefit from the guidance found in the "Inspired Word of God." The first relationships on earth are recorded in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. That is the relationship of God to man and then the relationship of man to God’s creation and ultimately the relationship of husband and wife; the beginning of the family. In fact, the entire Bible paints a picture of God’s tremendous love for His children in that He gave his only begotten Son, Jesus so that everyone might have a new relationship in the family of God by grace through faith. When we know Jesus, a good relationship with Him will sustain us through all other earthly relationships because it is the only relationship that is guaranteed for all of eternity.

Let’s look at how Jesus describes the fundamental nature of this relationship, in gospel of Matthew. 22:35- 40-NIV “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Jesus’ response to the Pharisee’s question has been called the Great Commandment. Simply put, The Great Commandment states that we are to love God and to love people. That’s it! We might call it the Summary Statement of all of God’s law.” That’s serious! Instead of trying to keep 613 rules and regulations known as the Old Testament Law, to the Ten Commandment, Jesus has now condensed it down to two simple commands. Love God & love people. Jews scholars had determined that there were 613 commandments in the Law, as there were 613 separate letters in the Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments. They divided these into affirmative and negative commands. They taught that 248 were affirmative, or one for every part of the human body, as they counted them. 365 were negative, or one for each day of the year.

The “experts” realized that no one could be successful in fulfilling all the demands of this heavy legalism. To make it easier, they identified some commandments as “heavy” or profound and others as “light” or peripheral. Some held that the law of the Sabbath was the greatest commandment, others contended for circumcision, the wearing of special apparel, or other teachings. Jesus’ reply is marvelous. He will not concentrate on minors, but expresses the main point of the commandments by quoting two passages, one from the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, the other from an obscure corner of Leviticus 19. Each expresses the principle of love. Loving God and the human family fulfills the Law.

The Gospel is the Message of the Cross. The vertical staff of the Cross speaks of man's relationship with God, and the horizontal that with fellowmen. Vertical relationship with God is not acceptable if the horizontal relationship with people is not alright. It is contradictory for a worshipping tongue to go ruining someone with hateful words (James 3:9). "If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." John restates the answer Jesus gave to the lawyer, "And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:20, 21). Here lies the reason why Jesus insisted on "first" reconciling with an offended brother before offering gifts to God (Mt 5:23, 24). Reconciliation involves obedience, humility and self-denial.

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