May 10, 2107
It’s interesting that Jesus told His disciples that what should distinguish them from other people was the manner in which they loved one another. Not their personal devotion, or fanaticism, or preparation to be martyred, or ability to perform miracles, or superlative knowledge of the Bible—-but how they loved one another. That was the sign of following Jesus.
What has happened to us? Why is this not still the distinguishing sign that a person is a follower of Christ? It was said that in the early years of the Christian church the Roman soldiers would comment that you could tell certain folk were Christian because of the love they showed for one another—-and this was purportedly said as an insult, not a compliment.
But few commentators would suggest that that is what sets Christians apart from the other people of the earth today. It might even be argued that Christians are unloving to Muslims, atheists, homosexuals, etc. But the life of Christ, and the example of the disciples was one of love. Jesus did not condone Judas’ betrayal, Thomas lack of faith or Peter’s denial, but no one would ever suggest that He did not love them!
Paul might have had harsh words for the Christians that incorrectly taught you had to first experience circumcision before you became a follower of Jesus, but we also know that he would quickly have given his life for the salvation or benefit of the same soul.
Jesus point is that He expected His true followers to love as He had loved them. This was not some sentimental love and certainly not a romantic love, but rather the love that contends with making a decision to love—-and sticking with it! And that, I think, is what is lacking today. We love when we feel like it—which is no different from any other religion or society. But in Christ we have been taught to love each other in such a way that it is obvious it is both a determination to love and not give up, but also that it flows supernaturally from us (because of our connection to God: the ultimate source of love).
To NOT love means that we are not connected to Him and/or that we are unwilling to act as He acted. It’s not a matter of loving the lovely, or those that will love back or because it feels good——but because it is our choice and our reborn nature to love.
The Roman soldiers did not understand this when they saw it——but they saw it consistently among those who claimed Christ as their Savior. Shoud it not be true of us today as well?