It was years ago that someone brought to my attention that the first four of the Ten Commandments regard our relationship with God and the next six concern our relationships with others. I found that helpful at the time, seeing that those commandments framed the expectations for all my spiritual and natural relationships. I also found it helpful for seeing the heart of God - that my relationship with God and God’s with me had a kind priority over other relationships, that God’s heart desires that, but also that those other relationships were pretty important as well, and not just to me but also to God. They are so important, in fact, that God thought we needed commandments to guide and protect them, and even more commandments than given for our spiritual relationship with God. I continue to find truth in that sense of a God-first priority because I have found so many times that my relationship with others is affected by how much I give toward my relationship with God. If I am facing a challenging situation that requires extra grace and love, it matters that I have first spent time in relationship with God who is the source of all grace and love. As I have said publicly before, “You cannot give away what you do not have.” Making that daily or more check in with God and keeping that the priority is key not just to keeping those first four commandments, but to being prepared to keep the next six and for all our dealings with others.
As Christians, we often seek the pre-incarnate Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures, and so in this God-us/us-other framework of the Ten Commandments we see both the vertical dimension and horizontal dimension of his cross. We recall that in Christ, God came down to earth, and taking on human form joined with our humanity, lifting us up and making of children of God and
co-heirs of the Kingdom. God is God and we are not, but we are now joined through Christ with God and others at the vertical center of the cross. We also remember the words and life of Jesus. He taught that the law is summarized as loving God and loving our neighbor as our self. Loving
our neighbor is like loving God. There should be no reservation and no distinction in loving a neighbor or in loving one neighbor over another. In so many ways he taught that status differences and all things that divide us would be overturned in God’s Kingdom. On the horizontal dimension that represents our relationships with others, there is no one on the left of us, no one on the right, no one who is to us “other.” On the cross, it is not just the vertical dimension that collapses to the center, but the horizontal does as well. All are the same in God’s eyes and so it should be all for all who are Christians. Finding our center means that we journey daily to the center of the cross through prayer and it means that we treat others with the God-given love we receive in our daily prayers. It means embracing what God has done for us in Christ and our co-equal identity as children and heirs of all that is our Father’s Kingdom, and that we in turn love and share without distinction.
Blessed be our God,