Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:33-35
Today is Good Friday. Good, of course, means Holy. This day is holy because it’s the day at the root of how everything good, and right, and generous, and redemptive, is being made possible. And I use the present continuous tense, is being made possible, deliberately.
As a theologian, I have an inconsistent relationship with my understanding of human nature. Sometimes I am carried by the conviction that we are all essentially good, that the best in humanity is something that just needs to be coaxed out… and then there are those times when I have no doubt about – as The Shadow put it – what evil lurks within the hearts of men.
Kindness, Goodness, and Mercy:
But one thing I’m always one hundred percent sure about is how much Christ values kindness, and goodness, and mercy and how important that quality of excellence is in the following-Jesus equation. In fact, when we think about what it means to be New Creations in Christ, kindness, mercy, patience, and understanding – fruit of the sweet spirit of Jesus – are always front and center.
Easter, and especially the self-giving sacrifice of Good Friday, is at the heart of the impetus of Jesus – the Jesus trajectory. Jesus is the impetus (impetus = the force, the energy which makes something happen) of goodness in humanity. Good Friday is good because of Jesus, and goodness can return to the heart of the human experience because of Good Friday.
Jesus is necessary:
Jesus, then, according to my evolving theological understanding, is not only the impetus for goodness, Jesus is necessary for the restoration of what is supposed to be essential in the human experience.
Jesus is necessary for the restoration of what is supposed to be essential in the human experience.
My title – Be Excellent to One Another – is more than a nod to Bill and Ted’s “be excellent to each other” mantra, it’s a reminder that Jesus has gifted us with the possibility of actually living that way. The goodness that Good Friday makes possible is foundational to practical Christianity. If we are not excellent to each other, then Christ is not alive in us.
If we are not excellent to each other, then Christ is not alive in us.
Bill and Ted may have been advocates for this idea, but it is Good Friday that makes transformational goodness possible. Not just possible, but mandated by God.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. – Jesus
Be excellent. Let the Jesus quality of goodness and kindness and mercy define you. Love eloquently – DEREK