Hidden in Plain Sight

This morning I couldn’t find my glasses until my wife pointed at my head. I reached up and laughed at myself. I had overlooked the obvious. Truth is often like that

What is a Maundy? This Easter many Christians will celebrate Maundy Thursday, but the meaning of the word is hidden.  Maundy is derived from mandatum, Latin for command. It refers to the new mandate Christ gave his church that night. “A new command I give to you, love one another as I have loved you. By this everyone will know you are my disciples.”  This new order for a new order is missed by the church, yet so vital to fulfilling her mission.

Show and Tell. We also tend not to see that he washed the disciples feet that night to prepare them to hear and obey his new covenant command. He was such a good teacher! First he showed them what agape love was, ”Do you understand what I have done for you? I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for each other.” Then later he told them.

It’s not the Golden Rule. Another truth hidden in plain sight is how we confuse Christ’s “one another love” for the old covenant rule to love our neighbors. For the Jew, the neighbor was a  fellow Hebrew. But in his story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus re-defined neighbor as the outsider and stranger, not a member of the group. The degree of love for the neighbor is as we love ourselves. In the church we are to love each other as he has loved us. This new command is that special form of love we only offer family members. The apostle understood this:  “Let us do good to all men, but especially to those who are members of God’s family with you.” (Gal 6:10 )

A Glorious Outcome. Moreover, Moses offers no reward for obeying his old covenant rule. Jesus’ rule offers a glorious one. If and when brethren lay down their differences on the altar of Christ’s love and practice genuine koinonia, he promises the world will recognize us as true Christians.  That is why he prayed, “Father, may they be one, as we are one, that the world will believe.” We can reach our neighbors when we make “one-another love” and unity a higher purpose than the traditions and divisive doctrines which fracture us and weaken our witness.

Our Hidden Message. Today our lost neighbors pass by our places of worship, hardly glancing at our billboards much less consider visiting on Sunday. Is their lack of interest in us and our message because we have ignored Christ’s command? Have we lost their attention because our reputation is more for divisiveness and judgment than love? Might it be because we tend to ignore fellow believers who may worship right next door? Is this why folks who join our churches today are more likely to be transfers or recycled believers than new disciples?

A world turned right-side up. Believers in Acts had something better than an evangelism program. They had a reputation for meeting each others’ needs. Their neighbors took note of them, listened to their message and God added daily to their number. (Acts 2:47) Here’s what observers had to say about them, “These are those who have turned the world upside down’“and, “Look at those Christians, how they love one another!” What are they saying about us?

 Lord, forgive our divisions. Help us to find creative ways to practice mutual love among ourselves. Give our leaders wisdom to promote love and unity within their flocks and with neighboring congregations.


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