Lady Pastor: Verses explore the heart of the Bible

Summaries are very helpful tools. Whether I'm reading about a movie, restaurant, or book, I enjoy concise overviews. Knowing a little something about a particular topic helps me to be better informed and equipped to make decisions.

Today, our featured Bible passages are summaries. Readers submitted some wonderful verses that provide a general overview of what the Bible is really all about.

During our Lenten Bible adventure, we've explored a lot together: God's promises to us, guidance for life and some qualities of our Creator. This week, it's time to summarize what's at the center of it all. Today's verses answer the question: What's at the heart of the Bible?

First, let's dive into the Old Testament. One reader shared a verse that was first expressed by a prophet named Micah. Chapter 6, verse 8 states, "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

It's an active verse which is great because faith has an active component! As inhabitants of this planet, we are invited to truly participate in God's work in the world, always acting out of a core of love and kindness. Doing justice involves looking out for the needs of others. One reader shared some of Jesus' own words on this theme: "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me" (Matthew 25:40).


When Jesus was preaching and teaching and healing, people were really curious about him. They wanted a summary of his overall message.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus summarizes his mission by saying, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 12:15). In the Gospel of Matthew, when he's asked what's most important, Jesus says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-29).

Many of the books in the New Testament are letters, and a fair number of them were written by a man named Paul. Paul provides an excellent summary on the topic of what's at the center of our religious life in his first letter to the Corinthians.

He writes, "And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is a constant refrain throughout the Bible, and it beautifully summarizes what's at the core of our lives of faith.

We have two more weeks of our Lenten adventure, so there's still time to share your favorite verse. Please send it soon to:

I extend a special word of thanks to Pam, Gordy, Beth, Karen, and Herb for submitting the verses that shaped today's theme. For the full list of all contributions, please visit my blog at

As you travel onward through the week ahead, please hold today's Bible summaries close to your heart. Thank you for extending justice, kindness, and humility wherever you go. Together we are building a world where all people are invited to experience real love. May God's living Word be our compass and guide.

The Lady Pastor is a weekly column by Emily Carson, a Lutheran pastor in Stewartville. Check out her blog about music, food, fashion, faith and more, online.

What To Read Next
Get Local