A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
We usually close our weekly department head meeting by singing the song, “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” Someone in the group recently commented that it’s kind of funny that as we stand in a circle singing that song, we don’t really look at each other. Did you ever sing a song in a small group standing in a circle? It’s kind of weird – you look down, up, at the pictures on the wall… just about anywhere but in someone’s eyes. But I wonder if the truth is that, if we’re really paying attention to what we’re singing, it’s even more convicting to sing those words if you look someone right in the eye. You know the song, right?
“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord…. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
And sometimes, we don’t even like our brothers and sisters in the Lord, so how in the world are we supposed to love them?
I’ve heard many, many people, over the years that I have worked at Keswick, say that it must be wonderful to work here, surrounded by believers. And don’t get me wrong, it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that it’s always wonderful. Because we’re still broken humans, capable of all the ugliness that our human natures can produce. And some days, well, some of us – me included, maybe even especially me – aren’t very lovable. But yet we are still commanded to treat one another with love. And that takes the power and grace of Jesus in our lives. We aren’t capable of it on our own.
And in this specific verse, Jesus was talking to His disciples. Not about loving the world, but about loving each other. Most of us could go to a soup kitchen for a day and show Christ’s love. Or go on a short-term missions trip and show Christ’s love. After all, we probably won’t ever see those people again anyway. But to show His love to the people we rub shoulders with every day – our family, our church families, and for me, my co-workers – that takes supernatural power than can only come from Him.
It’s an area that I know I need work on. But I pray that, as I’ve often heard, if I were on trial for being a Christian that there would be enough evidence to convict me.
“All praise to the Father from Whom all things come, and all praise to Christ Jesus His only Son, and all praise to the Spirit Who makes us one… And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Ruth Schmidt is on full-time staff at America’s Keswick, and grateful to be a daughter of the King.