Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"By This ... "

There is a way to tell who is a disciple of Jesus and who is not. Yes, there is a mark that identifies the followers of Jesus Christ. It is the easiest thing to say. It is the hardest thing to do. In short, it is hard.

Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another" (John 13:35). Note the two parts of the verse. In fact, this is important. Let me take it apart for you for a moment.

"By this..." By this what? By this thing that is about to be named. Whatever this thing is, it is the mark of a Christian.

See? "... will all men know ..." Notice that phrase "all men." Even lost people will know that we are followers of Jesus when they see this thing that is about to be named. Whatever it is it is so different than what is seen in the secular world that it will mark us as followers of Christ.

"... if you have love one to another." This is the thing. It is the love that we have for our Christian brothers and sisters. Note that it is not just love. It is love of such a quality that even lost people can see it is different than what they practice. None of us would argue that lost people cannot love. They love their spouses. They love their kids. They love. But there is a kind of love that they do not know or practice. It is a kind of love that is not seen in the world. So when they see it in a Christian, they know it by how it is different. They know, by it's quality that the one practicing it is a follower of Jesus Christ.

So this is the mark of a true Christian. Above all other things. Above doctrine, worship, good deeds and everything else. This "Christian love" that we have for one another, our brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the thing that sets us apart from everyone else.

So if a person is a Christian, we are compelled by the indwelling Holy Spirit to love them. The Spirit calls to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us finds a natural attraction to the Holy Spirit in our brothers and sisters. Our changed heart finds a natural affection for those who are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It is not a question of "should we love them?" But rather, we are compelled by the Spirit to love them. Just as we love Christ, we love those He owns. We must.

But since the source of this love is the Holy Spirit Himself, it is a love given by God, for God, to God, through us.... It is a love unknown to the world around us. That is why it sets us apart. That is why, even lost people can know we are followers of Jesus. Because the God living inside us shines forth with a love that can only find it's source in God alone.

Beloved. This is where it gets hard. It is easy to love those people who are like us. Like attracts like. Right? It is easy to love those people who love us first. That is human love. But "We love Him because He FIRST loved us." God's love reaches out to those who do not (necessarily) love us. We are called to love the ones who are not like us, who do not love us. And not just love, but to love them with God's love flowing through us to them. THIS is hard. It is impossible without God in us. We are called to love our Christian brothers and sisters no matter how unorthodox they are in our eyes IF we are convinced that they are truly Christians. Friends, I am not always the best example of this. Sometimes I am not an example at all. It is hard to do this. But God has not called us to do the easy thing, but the right thing.

Friends, if THIS is the mark that identifies us, then shouldn't it be found in us? Shouldn't we be doing it? This is not easy doctrine. It is a hard thing. But Jesus said it. He bought us. He owns us. He lives in us. In this, as in all things holy ... we need to be about the Master's business.


Blogger Dave Miller said...

I saw your comment on Wade Burleson's site. Are you an Iowa Baptist? I pastor in Sioux City on the other side of the state.

I guess I am assuming that Davenport is in Iowa (I know no others) and that since you commented on Wade's site, you must be SBC.

I was in Cedar Rapids for 14 years and knew most of the Quad Cities guys, but have lost touch.

10:05 AM  

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