“By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
When I was in high school I worked for a company that among other things, designed and sold Christian t-shirts. Many of the shirts had clever sayings, scripture, or logo knock-offs with a spiritual spin. For instance, one of our shirts had what looked like the Reebok logo on the front, but actually read “Reeborn.” And surprisingly, we were never sued. I helped sell the shirts at our camps and winter retreats and they sold like hotcakes. The thinking was that the person sporting the shirt would be openly identified as a Christian, and even get a little passive witnessing in as they walked by the less spiritually clad heathen.
I’m not anti-Christian apparel. Many organizations have uniforms, logos, colors, and other brand items to identify them and separate them from the pack. But as marketing and advertising has gotten more competitive and saturated, people have begun to realize that talk is cheap and the real brand is in an organization’s character. This is the point Jesus was making.
We live in a jaded world, over-familiarized with corrupt spiritual leaders, saying one thing, and living quite the opposite. These days, a clever shirt just isn’t going to cut it. If we want to rise above the noise as true followers of Christ, it must be done by loving each other. Because love is hard work and doesn’t come naturally. And because Jesus loved selflessly and sacrificially, and as his disciples, that’s what we’re called to do as well. This type of love is the only true confirmation of who we claim to be.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Why do you think Jesus distinguishes this type of love (for other believers) as the thing that will point out a true disciple?
- Are there other believers that you struggle to love?
- Take some time to pray for them and that God would help you love as He does.
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jon Price, Associate Pastor