Our Dual Mandate: Lovers of God, Lovers of People

The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer quoted by Jesus.

The Nash Papyrus (2nd century BC) contains the Ten Commandments and the Shema Yisrael prayer quoted by Jesus.

Imagine you were to ask Jesus to follow the pattern of Abe Lincoln and say, “What’s your mandate? Why do you do what you do?”

Do you want to know what he is going to say to you?

We find the answer in Mark’s Gospel, chapter 12. One of the teachers of the law walks up and hears some hotshots debating with Jesus. Noticing that Jesus has given them a good answer, he asks him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord 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: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)

Listen again to what Jesus says about his dual mandate: “Because I’m a lover of God, and I’m a lover of people. If you look behind the curtain in my life, that’s what you’re going to find. That’s the engine that fuels what I do, and if you want to know how I am going to get where I need to go, I’m going to get there because I’m a lover of God and a lover of people.”

Now I thought, maybe we should just check that out and see if that mandate holds up in our source documents. Jesus pulled his response out of the source documents. He didn’t make that up. He went in, pulled it out, and set it in front of this man who was actually a type of lawyer who asked him the question. He pulled it from their law, in Deuteronomy 6, “The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.”

So there, in Deuteronomy 6, the context again is that loving God has to do with whom? You’re loving God, and who are you sharing that with? The children. So, there is always this context of the people around you. Loving God was never a solo issue. It was always two parts. Loving God and loving people. They’re inseparable: a two-part mandate.”

Like Lincoln, we have a twofold mandate and two source materials. As we continue, it might be helpful to think of it this way. First, we have a mission mandate based on our written source material, the Bible. Second, we have a motive mandate based on our heart source material, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

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