This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
-1 John 4:10–12
The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum,” meaning commandment. This is in reference to the new commandment of love Jesus gave to his disciples: “Love one another.”
And we love because God loved us first. It’s not that we loved God and therefore searched him out and discovered that he loved us, too. No, long before we ever had any interest in him, he had his eye on us and loved us with an everlasting love.
And it wasn’t because we were so irresistibly lovable either.
If God had waited for us to become lovable enough before he loved us, he’d still be waiting. From the beginning till this day, his love was and is based upon his character, not ours. What John is saying is that since this is true, we ought to love one another even if “they” aren’t so warm and fuzzy.
It’s this love for one another that signals to the world around us that something real is happening in our midst. People know that others aren’t always so easy to love, and usually we treat them just as they deserve. So when the Christian does something so astounding as to show love to the unlovely, it gets attention.
In fact, this is probably the principal way people learn that God’s people have something you can’t find anywhere else. When they see us loving one another, they know from their own experience that the unusual is taking place.
It wasn’t the church’s doctrines that first gained the attention of the Roman world, but the love found among the Christians—not just for one another, but for others as well. The first Christians loved even the ones who mistreated and persecuted them.
Such love isn’t optional. It’s not just something we can be doing while we’re waiting around—it’s the central requirement and identifying characteristic of the real church. With it our lives will make a lasting impact, and without it nothing else we do will make the slightest difference.
With love, God’s love is made complete in us. So when we’re praying, let’s ask for the impossible: real, tangible, measurable love for one another.
Father, I cannot love the way you want me to love unless you grant me the power to do so. Fill me with your Spirit and power every day for the rest of my life. I pray in the name of Jesus who loved us first, Amen.
Today I let go of any anger or bitterness and commit to love by…
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