Sunday, August 29, 2010

The mark that distinguishes

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:35 (NIV)

During a recent dinner party, I had the opportunity to socialize with quite a few people I'd not previously met. Conversations flowed, social etiquette was practiced, and for the most part guests shied away from the more delicate topics of politics and religion. Overhearing various conversations that took place around me, however, I realized that the belief systems in the room were almost as varied as the number of people in attendance.

The next morning as I mulled over the evening's event during my quiet time, I wondered if any of the people I met knew about my love for Jesus. For that matter, was it important that they knew. After all, it was a business engagement and not a faith-based affair.

Opening my Bible to the morning's devotional reading, I had a personal sense of some insight into my questions. "A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35 NIV).

While I'm inclined to dig into God's Word to gain greater understanding, I'm pretty sensitive that I not tear apart every single word or phrase in a passage looking for meaning that doesn't belong. With that said, the "By this all men will know that you are my disciples" portion of the Scripture verse touched my heart.

The Greek word used in this passage is agape--unconditional love. C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves) describes agape, or charity, as love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstances or personal flaws. It describes God's love. The apostle Paul describes what true Christian love is like in his first letter to the Corinthians. He points out that the true measure of spiritual worth lies in self-giving love, no matter what great knowledge or gifts a Christian possesses.

The command is clear. God Himself is love and is the source and measure of all love. I do care that others know about that love. Consequently, if all men are to know that I am Jesus' disciple and if they are to come to this realization through my expression of charity, inherent in the command is that I am concerned for how I show that love.

God's Word provides wonderful illustrations of how Jesus expressed this love during His daily walk on earth. He was generous with His time and accepted what we would perceive to be interruptions in His day (Luke 9:11). Jesus took a keen interest in the people around Him, gave them His full attention, and actively listened to their needs (John 5:6, Luke 21:1-4). He always spoke truth (John 3:1-21,Luke 9:57-62, Matthew 6:9-15). He demonstrated compassion (Matthew 14:13-14, Mark 10:17-23), provided comfort (John 11:17-37), and extended forgiveness (John 21:15-19).

Dear friend, the mark that distinguishes is love. What if each person we meet could actually recognize that we are followers of Jesus by the way we "love one another"?

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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