Maundy Thursday – We Have One Job

“I have made your very being known to them—who you are and what you do—and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them, exactly as I am in them.” John 17:25-26 (MSG)

In our journey through Holy Week, today is Maundy Thursday. The word maundy comes from the Latin mandatum, where we get the word “mandate.” The mandate, or command, in question, is Jesus’ command that His followers love one another (John 13:34). How fascinating that while there were other such great moments that Jesus shared with his disciples at his last Passover meal—the early church made Jesus’ new command to love others the namesake for Maundy Thursday. Because after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, the most compelling reality of our faith will be how we love others.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality” (1 John 3:18). The viability of your faith is not how much Scripture you know, how much you do for Jesus, or how to “win” in defense of your faith; it is how well you love. Because, really, all those other things are doable in our own strength compared to the heart-work of loving others who are so unloving. (Which includes all of us!) I guess that’s how you know the Spirit is fully alive in you.

The Apostle John drills down: “Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love” (1 John 4:7-8).

John is not letting us off the hook. There is no getting around this. If we claim to know God, our most natural inclination should be loving.

John goes on! “My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!” (1 John 4:12
). How do you know God has made Him home in you? You guessed it: by the way you love. John does not give us any other proof of our faith; it is not moving mountains, not casting our demons, not praying for the sick and they are made well. It is how we treat others.

Now Peter gets in on the action: (Think of Facebook as you read…) (My commentary words are in italics.) “Summing up: Be agreeable (you don’t have to agree), be sympathetic (there is more going on than meets the eye; people are fighting a battle you know not of), be loving, (care about their well-being more than being right) be compassionate (not insensitive or hard-headed), be humble (you don’t have anything to prove). That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless” (1 Peter 3:8-11). We have one job: Our job is to bless. What if we focused on that?

Of course, love takes many shapes and every day we have the opportunity to express love:

Don’t return a tit-for-a-tat. Be kind…always…especially with your words. (You can’t say you love someone and demean them with your words.)

Lay aside self-focus or demanding your way. (Let someone else choose; someone else go first; care about what they care about…)

Ask for and give forgiveness (The quickest way to a bitter soul is withholding forgiveness.)

Be quick to listen, (make listening your “go-to” in any relationship) without self-defending.

Choose relationship over being right. (Instead of being right, what if sharing the gospel includes a willingness to remain fully and personally present, without judging, or the need to fix or ‘save’ another person.) The world doesn’t care what you believe, but they will notice how you love.

What if the quality of our love becomes the basis of the reality of the gospel?

Basing his thoughts on the discourse of Jesus at the last supper recorded in John 17, the late theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote, “Love is Final Apologetic.” Apologetics is the skill of case-making for the truth of Christianity. In other words, there is no greater defense of our faith than how we love.

In a culture that shouts more than it listens, this is the Church’s finest hour. May our hearts have been prepared for this moment.

Reflection Questions:

What is your first or natural inclination when you have been slighted, ignored, or maligned?

What would you add to the list of ways to express love?

What is your response?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: