By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
I grew up in a “church” that was not very open to new people. In fact, in order to take communion, one would have to be “interviewed” or “examined” by the men of the church. Sure, we invited kids in the area to Sunday School, but that was about it. I don’t remember anyone reaching out to those who didn’t act, or look mostly like us. It took me many years to shed the weight of such high standards….ones that Jesus never called us to, by the way.
I was raised that these rules were some of the ways we set ourselves apart from the world, or by those who were not saved. But I have learned that love is definitely enough to set ourselves apart!
Real love is humble. Real love is serving. Real love is sacrificial, and forgiving. Real love is compassionate, not just to the ones for which the world shows compassion, but for the “villain of the story.” For the thief, the liar, the cheater, the abuser, and the murderer.
This verse does NOT say, “They will know you by the company you keep.” Or “They will know you by the rules you adher to.” Nor does it say, “They will know you by the good deeds you perform, or by the sincerity you simulate during worship, or by how holy your prayers sound.”
Jesus kind of makes it easy on us. He just leaves that one command for us to follow (that, and loving Him, which is a given!) But it’s a doozy! And it is powerful, too. The world doesn’t know what to make of the mother who forgives the drunk driver who took her daughter away before she ever had a chance to really start her life. The world doesn’t know what to make of the father whose son was killed by gang members,who now makes it his mission to show love to those same young men.
Before you start leaving me messages defending some of your actions, or making excuses, don’t! Because I am not judging you any harder than I do myself. For ten years, I worked for Children and Youth Services. During that time, I met so many hurt and abused children. Even children raped by BOTH parents! My compassion grew and grew each day for those children. However, my anger increased steadily towards those parents who caused such harm and damage to their own children. In fact, that was the real reason I left that job. I was just too angry. At the parents, at the system, and well, everybody. Now, I wish I could go back and do things a little different. Whenever I hear of a heinous act committed by somebody, I pray that I or someone closer could be used to show them some compassion….the forgiveness I DIDN’T show to so many.
THAT is what will ultimately set us apart from everyone else! Showing real love, that comes from the Father, to a lost, hurting, sin-soaked world.