There are some verses that I wish were not in the Bible because they cause me to question how I am living and to pursue a life ‘worthy of the calling that I have received’. The problem is, living this way is normally a battle against my flesh, it doesn’t come naturally and it costs me. Hence why I often wish the Bible didn’t record them. But it does.
One of these verses has been on my mind for the last 6 months, it plagues me! Last Sunday in church the preacher made reference to it and all of this past week it has been like a script in front of my eyes. Let me share it with you…
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”
The verse is from John 13:35 and is said by Jesus to his disciples. The context is Jesus telling his followers that he will soon no longer be with them as he is now, and He gives them a new commandment to live by: Love each other as I have loved you.
I read this as:
‘I am no longer going to walk this earth with you, so you now have the responsibly to be my representatives wherever you go. In case you wonder what this looks like in practice, do it this way: LOVE EACH OTHER. If you do, no one will be able to question or deny that you are mine. How you love each other will prove who you promise allegiance to. Get it right and the world will know who I am, because they see me in you.’
Tough call and here’s my problem. It would be so much easier had Jesus said that the world would recognise us as His because of the church we go to, the job we do, how we spend our money, where we go on saturday night, our attitude to charity and social justice, our families and who our friends are. But He doesn’t say that. I wish he did, but he doesn’t.
He says that this ‘world’ (those who don’t know him, doubt him, blame him, hate him or are searching for him) will know that we bear his name by how we love each other. Or let me personalise this – the world will know that I belong to Christ when my love for my brothers and sisters is remarkable and unmistakable. Here is where I flounder.
This past week Jesus’ statement was on my mind more than ever because I spent it with 70 other Christians at a conference in a hotel. We travelled together, eat together, learned together, roomed together and relaxed together. And I wondered – what did the others in the hotel make of us all? Most would have had no idea about what we were there for, unless they were in our meetings with us. So, how did we fair at demonstrating to the world that we were Christ’s disciples? I don’t know – I guess the best test of that would have been to ask the other guests around us or those who served and looked after us. But I did ponder at times if we were showing that we belong to Jesus by how we ‘loved’ each other. What does it really look like in practice anyway to love each other remarkably?
Here’s some of the things that I reckoned would be markers of this command during the past week – did we include one another; bear with one another (even when we disagreed); speak honestly and kindly about one another (especially when they were not in earshot); were we patient; did we seek our own way every time or were we willing to put our own agenda’s to the side; and did we look for ways to forgive and be reconciled to each other? I know many times I failed, when I sit back and think. Did anyone notice? Or did ‘the world’ go away thinking ‘my how those people love and care for each other?’.
I pick on this last week because it’s a ‘un-natural’ situation, I am not normally surrounded by so many people who share my faith for 24 hours a day, except in church on a Sunday and even that is only for a couple of hours and ‘the world’ at large isn’t witness to it! But it really brought Jesus’ command to his disciples home to me. It’s exactly the sort of circumstance where we (those who follow Him) have the chance to shine.
I just wonder, if we Christians were to spend more time concerning ourselves with how we live beside one another, would ‘the world’ be much more interested to know about Jesus? It’s definitely what Jesus tells his disciples but it’s maybe not what we teach each other. It’s a challenge for me as I wonder how I best live out my faith in Jesus Christ-
Lindsay, the world will know that you belong to me when they are attracted to your love and commitment to your brothers and sisters’.
There’s no hiding from that, though I might like to avoid it. I pray that I learn more and more of what it means and in doing so am faithful to hear and obey my Saviours command.