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.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Mark of a Genuine Christian

This post is the result of a sermon I preached some days ago and the reflections I have made since that time. It is probably the most important post I will make on this blog.

What is it that marks the true Christian? One could argue with some validity that it is our love for God. Certainly Jesus called this the "Great Commandment." In Matthew 22:37 Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If that is the greatest commandment, then you could argue that doing it would be the one mark of a true Christian. But Jesus actually spoke very clearly about the thing that marks the life of a true Christian.

That mark is love. Yes, love for God. But Jesus went farther.

We owe it to every person to love them like we love ourselves. Jesus called this the second greatest commandment. In Matthew 22:39 he said this was like the first greatest commandment. The commandment to love others as we love ourselves goes out to all people. It is the kind of love we are to show to everyone. Beloved, this is a hard saying, like many of the things that Jesus said. We ought to love men, women, gays, lesbians, straights, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, drug users, prostitutes, teachers, lawyers, our bosses, our coworkers, our friends, our enemies, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, witches, atheists ... all of them .. just like love ourselves. This is the command of our Lord.

But there is another kind of love. One that goes beyond the way we love ourselves. Jesus said in John 13:35 "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another." But just before that he said ... "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." See that? "as I have loved you..." We Christians are supposed to love each other, our fellow Christians, in the same way that Jesus loved us. If you thought the first part was hard, this is harder. The way Christians love one another is supposed to be of such a quality of love that even lost people see it and mark us as being disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The mark of the genuine Christian is the way he or she loves their fellow Christians. Do you see that?

That means that if you accept someone as being a Christian, then by Jesus' own command, you must love them with the same kind of love with which Jesus loved you. It doesn't matter who they are, if they are a Christian then you must do this.

Each Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in you is not part of the Holy Spirit. He is not a different Holy Spirit than the Holy Spirit in the other Christian. It is the same Holy Spirit. He is One. He binds us all so tightly together that when one Christian hurts, all hurt. When one rejoices, all rejoice. We are bound more closely to each other than we are to our blood kin. This is the koininea ... the Fellowship. It is the indwelling Spirit that gives us the ability to love each other the same way Christ loved us.

The love of Christ for his people transcends our differences. It doesn't matter what denomination one is. It doesn't matter what your system of theology is. It doesn't matter what ethnic origin you come from or what country your church is located in. We are bound by Christ to love as we are loved. And this love is to be of such sublime quality that it alone marks us as being disciples of Jesus.

This is a hard saying. But it is the command of our Lord. Knowing what we know, we have two choices. We can be willfully obedient or willfully disobedient. But we cannot pretend we are ignorant. We can't hide from our joy and our duty any more. So where are you? Yo might say "Well, no one else loves Christians like this?" That doesn't matter. Even if everyone else does it wrong, is that a license for you to do it wrong too? No. You are compelled by Christ to do it right.

I am not where I need to be on this. But I think about it a lot. I am working on it. So how about you? Do you bear the mark of a genuine Christian? If not, what are you going to do about it? It is well worth thinking about. Don't you think?


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4:41 AM  

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