Sunday, July 23, 2017
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ― John Bunyan
When we show we are Christians by our love, it separates us from the rest of the world. Jesus asserted, "By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). Notice Jesus did not say that people will know that you are my disciples if you promote my agenda, attend church regularly, wear Christian T-shirts, or have a fish decal on your car, but rather if you love one another so that others know it. A watching world will be persuaded not when our values are promoted but when they are incarnated, when our love is manifest in our actions, our hearts, our passion. It is as though Jesus has given the entire world the right to judge whether or not one is His follower simply on the basis of their love for fellow human beings and nothing else.
Doctrines do not define the Christian life—only love for others does that. This vivacious virtue of love distinguishes the Christian from all others. From the very beginning, God's plan was to develop a people that reflected His character. And what is that character? Love. Love is the character of God, was, has been, is now, and always will be. “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world" (1 John 4:16-17). Believers demonstrating their love for others are God's advertisement to a watching society as to how individuals could best live in society. In fact, Christian love will always be the best way to bring others out of their darkness into Christian light.
When Ira Gillett, missionary to Tanzania, returned home to report on his activities overseas, he related an interesting phenomenon. Repeatedly, Gillett had noticed how groups of Tanzanians would walk past government hospitals and travel many extra miles to receive medical treatment at the missionary compound. He finally asked a particular group why they walked the extra distance when the same treatments were available at the government clinics. The reply: "The medicines may be the same but the hands are different.” We have often been told that we are not like other missionaries because of our love for these people. That's the virtue of love incarnated. This kind of love makes a difference. Christ has no hands, but our hands; no feet, but our feet. We are His ambassadors, we make Him real in this world, and when we love as He has loved us, this world changes. People will notice. People will believe. Authentic Christian love expressed in love for others has, does, and will change people’s hearts—and the world.