Friday, March 15, 2013

And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

"A new command I give you.: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" ~ John 13:35

Yesterday in my post, The Snarkiness of Christianity,  I ended by wondering what Jesus might be thinking about all the arrogant, self-righteous and mean-spirited attitudes and comments from His followers that have been flying around on the Internet recently concerning the announcement of the new pontiff, Pope Francis I, and about the Catholic Church in general.

I cannot be so arrogant and self-righteous myself to state that I KNOW  exactly what Jesus is or could possibly be thinking.  But I do know from Scripture that Jesus reserved His harshest criticism for those who were considered the religious elite of His day -- the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  These holy men followed Jesus, too. But not because they believed He was the Messiah, but to judge and criticize and condemn every word He spoke and every move He made.

In the Bible, Matthew 23:1-36 is subtitled in one translation as ‘Seven Woes To The Scribes and Pharisees,’ and ‘A Warning Against Hypocrisy’ in another. Jesus admonishes their actions, telling His disciples and the crowd of people following Him not to do what they, the religious leaders, do, because they do not practice what they preach.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!”  Jesus says to them over and over, calling them blind guides, blind fools, whitewashed tombs, snakes and a brood of vipers.  These men gave the appearance of righteousness and holiness on the outside, but inside they were unclean and dead. Hypocrites.

Might these same accusations aimed at the Pharisees and teachers of the law by Jesus so long ago strike a chord with many of His people today who are speaking maliciously of other folks who love and serve the Lord? Might these same warnings resonate within them, making them uncomfortable in their sin?

I must say, I am all too aware that while we may be followers of Christ, we are also an imperfect bunch of people.  We make mistakes. We give in to temptations. We fall down. We say hurtful, inappropriate things.  We set bad examples. Most times unintentionally, but sometimes not.  

And to be painfully honest, there was a time when I was what some call a ‘baby Christian’ (someone immature in their faith in Christ) and I would often sarcastically and self-righteously refer to myself as a ‘recovering Catholic,’ as I toggled between looking down my nose at and feeling sorry for anyone who still found themselves ‘trapped by the tradition of guilt and shame’ (my words) within the Catholic Church.

Can you say ‘World’s Biggest Jerk?’ Yes, that was me to a T, my dears. I THANK GOD for His grace and mercy with me over the years. I am thankful for His persistence in pointing out my arrogant stupidity and Pharisaecal attitude, for His help in removing this ugly attitude in me. And I’m grateful that today, God still sends loving, yet stern reminders and lessons whenever I seem about to veer over onto that path again.

May I ask for something here? Could we all just be willing to lay down our verbal swords? Could we all  just be willing to put aside our differences and disagreements on theology and doctrine? Could we – as a people who profess to love Jesus Christ – learn to see one another as beloved children of our Father God and precious brothers and sisters in Christ, united by and with and through the Holy Spirit?

As a matter of fact, in John 17:20-23, this unity is what Jesus prayed for in the upper room after the Passover meal, the night He was betrayed:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.

Could we -- dare we -- as Christians, humble ourselves and pray this way, too, for our Catholic friends, family members, neighbors, classmates and coworkers and for their pope? Could we -- dare we -- pray for those whose religious denominations and traditions aren't mirror images of ours?

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating – we need to be ever so careful about what we post, how we speak and act. The way we live and love.  Others – non-believers, new believers and people of different faith denominations -- are watching us. And they’ll know we are Christians…not by our Christian T-shirts, key chains and car magnets displaying clever slogans; not with our Jesus jewelry and our Bible verse Pinterest boards…but they’ll KNOW, without a doubt, we are Christians by our love.


  1. Amen, my friend! I am glad I have missed all of those posts! I heard about the new Pope, but have not really given it a thought nor have I heard any negativity ...but have not had much time to read the feeds the past 48 hours! All that being said I think we do need to be so careful what we say because we don't know the heart of people and when we judge by what we see (or observe as another's views) we forget that God knows what's on the inside of each individual full well! Let's vow to use our words well and to unite and not divide. Love you, my friend! We are together in the eblogger feeds today I just noticed. Yay! ;)

    1. Thanks, my friend. Of course we'd be together on the eblogger feeds. That's just how Bloggy BFFs roll!


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