Elder, David Kenser, shares a daily reflection and devotion.
In John 13:35, we read, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” From this verse, one can rightly conclude that the evidence of Christian discipleship or of being a follower of Jesus is not found in biblical orthodoxy or church ritual or moral restraint. The evidence is seen in our love for one another.
This truth is indisputably true but the general understanding of it is undoubtedly false. Huh? Say again. It is true that our discipleship is seen in our love for one another, but the display of our love is such that often our discipleship is anything but evident. Am I wrong? Are people indeed saying, “Look at how those Christians love each other! They must be true followers of Jesus Christ?”
Or, are not people often assessing churches saying, “I’m just as good as anyone down at that church”? Haven’t many left the church for the very reason they didn’t feel loved? I am an elder in a church that was begun by disaffected Christians tired of loveless churches. Are you beginning to nod your head and thinking along with me? If the church is evidenced by this love, why are fewer and fewer coming to church? Answer: It is, by and large, not!
Why is that? Knowing that it is by our love we will be known, why don’t we love? Oh, we do love but that really isn’t the answer. What? I know, it sounds like I just drove the bus off the cliff. But hang on for a moment.
Jesus did say it was by our love in verse 35, but this love of ours was qualified in verse 34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus loves us with an unqualified, indestructible, sacrificial love. He would and did give up everything for us, even to the point of death on the cross.
Now, what about the kind of love often seen in churches? Does it look like that? Is our love unconditional or do we not require others deserve our love? Do we truly treat those who mistreat us with sacrificial love? I’ve seen church members walking away because they didn’t get their way. I’ve listened to church members crucify other members in word instead of sacrificing themselves for one another.
If love and because love too often stands in the place of anyhow love. I’ll love you if you do this or because you have done this instead of I love you anyhow, even though you hurt me or disappointed me. Jesus didn’t give us a command to love, he gave us a “new command” to love – he commanded us to love each other just as he loves us. Therein lies the problem of many many churches.
So, here it is: We are called to love one another in such a way and to such a degree that the world will say, “Wow! Look at how they love each other. God must really be among them.” If the missionaries to India had loved like that, Gandhi would not have said, “I like this Jesus very much but I don’t like these Christians so much.” As some have suggested, if they had loved like Jesus, all of India would be Christian today.
We, those who claim to be the church or body of Christ, are called to love like Jesus did not as we feel like loving or simply respond to the way others love us. We are called to a divine love that gives all but expects nothing. We are called to lay our hearts, our resources, our very selves on the line for others whether they deserve it or not. Does your church love like that? Do you love like that? Jus’ Ask’n.