By Our Love

When Jesus was teaching His disciples He made it clear that whatever else was a measure of our Christianity, “they” (meaning unbelievers) would know we were His followers because of our love (John 13:35). But what did He really mean by that?

Would they know us because we acted like we loved other believers? Or would they know us because, no matter who they were or what they had done — either in general or else TO us — we acted out of love toward them?

And what is it to really, truly love as Jesus loved?

A little story: Back in the early 70s there was a young woman who had been terribly hurt by a cultic church. She had served God with her whole heart but no matter what she did she could not please the people of her church. She walked away from the church, finally and declared, “If that’s Christianity I don’t want it!”

Hating Christians and declaring herself to be an atheist, she became involved in the communist underground. She worked on a local Marxist paper and aggressively showed her spite for all things Christian whenever she could.

After a couple of years of this, she wandered into a church one Christmas season hoping to find a little “Christmas Spirit.” When a woman who was dripping diamonds sat down beside her and hugged her and welcomed her to the service she nearly ran but decided to stay. The musical program ended and she made her way as quickly as possible through the 15 foot wide foyer but the pastor had made it through the throng of 500 people before she could make it outside and grabbed her by the arm and the hand. He smiled and said, “I am so very glad you came! What’s your name?” She mumbled her name and left, still hurt, still angry, still hating Christians in general. But when she reached home she told her husband, “If you want a church where people love you, I don’t care if they stand on their heads in the corners … THIS church loves people!”

Six months later, she returned to the church and … would you believe it? That pastor remembered my name! He shook my hand and said, “I’m glad you came back, Joyce! I hope this isn’t the last time!”

THAT is the very essence of what Jesus was saying, “They will know you are Christians because you love … you love one another and you love that amorphous ‘they’. Love isn’t a game, it isn’t all sweetness and light. It’s accepting any and all that come into your service whether they smell of heaven or smell of pot. Whether they smile at you or spit at you. THEY will know WE are Christians by OUR LOVE.