In light of my recent post on Christian leadership, I decided that today is an appropriate day to again reflect on the how the church behaves differently than the world. On the church’s calendar, today is Maundy Thursday. This day derives its name from the Latin word that is the root of our word mandate. It’s called this because of Jesus’ words in John, “a new command I give to you” or a new “mandate.” This mandate comes after his washing of the disciples feet. Jesus is displaying that his style of leadership is built on love and service, not on power. With this “new mandate,” Jesus instructs his disciples to do the same to one another and then says that this is how the world will know that they are his disciples, by their love (John 13:34-35).
The love that Jesus speaks of here is not a feeling, but a lifestyle of putting others before yourself and treating others as you would want to be treated. This is love that Jesus shows us by laying down his life on the cross. This is love is more than just a singular action or a feeling, it is a virtue or a “a certain quality of character” as C.S. Lewis describes virtue in Mere Christianity. Our God is love, it is a part of his nature, and here Jesus commands us to make love apart of our character as well. So, while we typically spend this week think about what Jesus did for the world, today we are reminded of what He has asked us to do as well. We are to make love one of our defining characteristics like Christ did. As Paul wrote in Colossians 3, we are to clothe ourselves with love which binds all other virtues together in perfect unity.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:9-13 NIV)