On Tuesday morning at bible study our conversation flowed from the subject of Jesus’ resurrection* to what we might call ‘resurrection living’-i.e. loving our neighbors. The shift in topic really struck a chord as the conversation picked up as we moved from the theological to the realm of the practical. It was a good reminder to me of Jesus’ brilliance as a theologian. He reveals the mystery and wonder of the divine through the ordinary everyday rhythms of being a real human person, in real human relationships and when he asks us to follow him, he means choosing to live differently each day. John Wesley once said something like: ‘the loftiest of theological ideas are worthless if they aren’t grounded in practical realities.’ In other words you can wax theological all you want but if that theology doesn’t inspire and empower you to love others more today than you did yesterday than it’s not truly of God.
It’s Maundy Thursday and tonight some of us will hear Jesus’ mandate to love one another as I have loved you. It’s just that simple, but not that easy. It’s hard for me to love the people around me, my neighbors, my community, and the people I pass on the street. It’s easier to escape into my technology and social media, my news apps and the like. It’s easier to pretend that my constant connectivity is actually encouraging me to grow in my love for others. But, if I have to be honest it’s hard to really grow in love with your community through a screen. Maybe it’s something about the on demand aspect of it, or your ability to scroll through or gloss over the parts you don’t like or that challenge you…. or perhaps it’s the fact that most people’s social media is essentially just the highlight reels. Escaping into social media to feel connected to a larger community usually just feels like trying to love the shell of a person instead of an incarnate being.
So on this Maundy Thursday we remember that Jesus tells us to love each other, those who are closest to us in proximity as well as those on the other side of the world. If we do this, he says, people will know that we are his followers.
But we all know, in light of all that we’ve experienced this past week in response to the attacks in Brussels, that this isn’t easy. We live in a scary world and because of the violence and terror out there, it seems more prudent to be afraid of others instead of trying to love them.
But that’s not the way of Jesus, the way of humble, sacrificial, life-giving love. Jesus instead teaches us to own the gifts of peace, love and mercy in our own hearts so that we can in turn share them with our families, neighbors, communities and ultimately with the whole world. Like the soon to be Sainted Mother Teresa once said- ‘what can you do to promote world peace, go home and love your family.’
It’s just that simple, but it isn’t easy, which is ultimately why God gave us the church because Lord knows we can’t do it alone.
**yes I know it’s the Tuesday of Holy Week and we are supposed to be awaiting the resurrection, but hey what can I say that’s where we ended up