John 13:35 (ESV)
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
You probably know this verse in John’s gospel but have you every really stopped to consider its significance?
By this (if you have love for one another)…
All people (All – Christians and unbelievers alike)…
Will know (without a shadow of a doubt)…
That you are my (Jesus’s) disciples.
This is such a powerful and convicting verse. I believe if there is one indicator that you are following Jesus, this must be it and yet we seem to fail at it so often.
True or not, Sunday afternoons have been considered the least desirable shifts for servers working in restaurants. Server after server have reported lower tips and more attitude from after church diners. How are we communicating love to a group of workers that live off of tips and should be encouraged by followers of Jesus, not belittled?
Fewer and fewer church attenders support the work of their home church by either giving financially or physically serving those who they say are brothers and sisters in Christ. Does our propensity to consume rather than contribute communicate love to them?
Even worse is that almost daily a new report of a pastor or church worker has been accused of infidelity with a church member or even worse, a minor. How does the world view the gospel when even our churches and denominations seem to be covering up so much abuse?
Inside the church we say these are tough issues. Outside the church they say we are not to be trusted and that we don’t actually live out what we profess to believe.
I’ve heard it said that the pandemic is God judging the world. What if, instead, it is God judging the church?
Are we really loving one another?
To be fair, many of these examples are outliers of the almost 2.5 billion Christians around the world.
Most that I know tip really, really well. They serve and give to their churches. Most will never enter into an extra marital affair or abuse someone that they are in a position of authority over, though I wish I could say I don’t personally know of anyone who has. In truth, I can’t.
In all reality, I’ve found that the daily practicing of loving one another doesn’t actually garner much attention from the world at all…but it does get the attention of those who are being loved and that is what Jesus is calling us to.
The rhythm of loving others is the regular practice of seeing the needs of others and seeking to meet them. At times it means preparing a meal. Other times it means standing between an abuser and their victim.
People are loving others by becoming investigative reporters to ferret out corruption and the victimizing of others or attorneys to create systemic change that devalues minority groups.
Loving others certainly means sharing the gospel but not just the words…it’s about sharing the beauty of knowing Jesus and being changed by him.
This rhythm can’t be practiced alone, though. No matter how committed we are to love, we are going to fail. We are hopelessly locked in to the sin nature of looking after ourselves even when it hurts our friends. For this reason, the rhythms of forgiveness and confession are absolutely necessary.
As you process through Jesus’s command in John’s gospel, how are you loving others? Is there someone you need to confess a failure in this area? How about giving someone forgiveness (even if they don’t ask for it).
The rhythm of love is not just a good idea, it is the central teaching of the scriptures. If we don’t do anything else well, let us endeavor to do this well. The gospel depends on it.