Currently in my devotions I'm reading the gospel of John and currently in my devotions I'm falling in love with the gospel of John.
I came to John chapter 13 and read verses 34 and 35 where Jesus is speaking to His disciples and says this:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
I read that and was shocked. Literally flabbergasted. How many times have I heard those verses? I don't know, I come from the Shelley family, I've heard it a thousand times. But I couldn't believe my eyes. Did you catch that? People know we're Jesus' disciples when we love one another.
And we wonder why people can't see Jesus in us. Hah. Um hellooo. Maybe it's because we don't love one another? John lays it out pretty clear here. If we want to be good witnesses to the world and if we want to be the salt of the earth and if we want to be a city on a hill and if we want to be a lamp on a lampstand and if we want people to be able to tell who we are disciples of, maybe we should start loving one another.
The taste of gossip on our lips is all too familiar. We don't hesitate to speak badly of one another or put each other down. We are constantly judging one another (particularly the teenage girl population) - and not the good "judge each other for the sin in which they are living and confront them about it in love" type of judging, but the "oh my word his girlfriend isn't even pretty" type of judging.
This is so normal. People (myself included) don't think twice before saying negative things about others. About fellow Christians. While God doesn't ask us to like each other, He does ask us to love each other.
Actually no. He doesn't ask us to. He tells us to. He commands us to. We have no other option. If we want to obey God, glorify God, honor God - we absolutely must love one another. And there is no way around it.
This is no casual love, either. "...love one another, as I have loved you..." Um. Jesus has loved us tremendously, and that is how we are supposed to love each other?! That is quite the task. Not only did He just love us in His heart and think wow I just really love these people ok that's cool I'm gonna go home now. No. He showed His love. "Greater love has no man than this than that he lay down his life for his friends." Boy did Jesus show His love. And boy we had better show our love too.
We make a sincere decision to love the body of Christ (no matter who it is, no matter what disagreements we may have, no matter if he doesn't love me, no matter if she wears the most ridiculous clothes, no matter what basketball team they like, no matter how many annoying tweets she posts, no matter how bad of a friend they are). We intentionally show that love to each member of the body of Christ. Therefore others recognize something different in our lives. Therefore others realize that we are followers of Jesus. Therefore we glorify Jesus and spread His fame.
Can you imagine if this were the lifestyle of every single believer? If every single Christian was devoted to loving other Christians it would be so obvious to the world and it would be so easy to recognize Christians. We would be set apart from the world.
Sounds familiar. Sounds like...a description of what the church is supposed to look like?
Also. These pictures have absolutely nothing to do with this post and are not implying that I find these people hard to love (quite the contrary, actually), but I thought they were fun pictures of the crystal ball, and I am a firm believer that pictures make a blog post twice as good.