What does God expect of His people? Jesus summed it up simply: Love God. Love others. Take a look at the Ten Commandments, and Luther’s wonderful explanations of each. You’ll see the commandments pointing to how a person can live out their faith in two directions. First, in love for God, a Christian directs their respect, honor, love, and trust upward toward our Heavenly Father. Second, in love for others, a Christian directs their love, trust, and honor for God horizontally toward their neighbors.
Notice how Luther phrases it: “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor… We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor…We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents…” Love for God is directed and lived out in earthly relationships. In other words, my daily life is the field on which my faith plays out.
My relationship with my parents and all in authority reflects how I look at God. My relationship to a person in need is shaped by how I perceive God at work in my life. My relationship to a person who looks different than me is shaped by my understanding of God’s universal love for all people given in Jesus.
The cross is the place where Jesus ultimately fulfilled this law to love God and love others perfectly. Jesus trusted His Father AND cared for others on the cross. He placed his life in His Father’s hands. He forgave his enemies. He respected his mother. He gave for his friends. He cared for the thief next to him. Jesus fulfilled this law perfectly, not just vertically by honoring His Father, but also horizontally by loving His neighbor as himself.
Looking at the Ten Commandments reminds us that Faith makes its way into all human relationships. Tomorrow we’ll look at the Apostle’s Creed to see how a doctrinal statement about God shapes our interaction with others.