In the Christian liturgical tradition, today is Maundy Thursday. The term itself has its roots in the Latin mandatum, or command, and is mnemonically connected to Jesus’ last command to his disciples: To love one another.

In reviewing the last 2000 years of church history, it seems that we really still have not grasped what this means. Christianity is supposed to be defined by how we love one another, both other Christians and those outside of the Christian circle. We have a checkered history, to say the least, and I daresay that the group that has suffered most from our inability to live by the mandate of Maundy Thursday is “those” Christians, whoever “they” are. We are quick to judge and exclude Christians who minimize doctrine and belief and emphasize justice and ethics. We are quick to judge and exclude Christians who do just the opposite, who maximize doctrine and biblicism and personal morality and minimize justice and ethics. We are quick to judge and exclude those who pay scrupulous attention to tradition and ritual, who yet seem lax over study or knowledge of the Scriptures. We condemn those whose personal morality differs from ours, whose sense of ethics place more value on saving the planet than saving souls, whose politics fail to cohere (we think) with biblical principles.

We condemn those who we think condemn us.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.

We don’t deserve it.

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