Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Simple Test

Have you ever wondered how Christians are identified? Let's face it, most of us don't have a 'uniform' parse. We don't carry around our church membership card and flash it at random strangers. Most of us don't go door to door introducing ourselves as Christians. Few Christians carry around a large black Bible everyday. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian. So what identifies us as a Christian? How will people know? 

Like every other question that we are faced with I believe we must go to the Word of God, the Bible, for the answer. John 13:35 tells us "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." A Christian loves and that love will tell the world that they are a disciple of Christ: a Christian. People of other religions can love too, so what's the difference? Are we right back at square one wondering what identifies us as a Christian? No, we're not, because a Christian is to love others as Christ loved us. He laid down His life for us. 

He gave up His own desires for the will of the Father and that will said that a sacrifice must be made so that mankind could be saved and live eternally with God the Father. That was love.  Sometimes we need to sacrifice our rights, our opinions so that others may share theirs and in doing so, we show love. Its not easy when we disagree but its pretty hard to continue a fight or argument if one of the people involved gives in.  

Nothing can separate us from the love of the God. Oh, sure, we can walk away from Him and want nothing to do with Him, but God doesn't give up on us. His love never fails even when we disappoint Him. Is your love dependent upon the actions of others? God's isn't.

How many people have we given up on? How many people have we failed to show true, unconditional, Christlike love to? People will disappoint us, anger us, hurt us and fail us, but we are still to love them as Christ loves us and when we do, we will identify ourselves as Christians. That kind of love doesn't come naturally. That kind of love is a choice because we want to please the Father and with His help we can love unconditionally. 

That's not to say that we like everything a person does, of course not. God hates sin yet He loves sinners. We don't have to like how people treat us but we can still love them and have concern for them.

 So many times we skim over the parts of the Bible that we are uncomfortable with. Things like "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (I John 4:20) and 

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5:38-45)

Jesus taught us how to love others so that the world would know that we are His disciples. He expects us to follow His teachings. He tells us in John 14:15 that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. Do you love Him? 

Its easy to love people who are nice to us and treat us well. But Jesus tells us that we are to go the extra mile and even love our enemies; those who despitefully use us. This is a test: are you a disciple? Does the world know you are a Christian? It will, if you love even the unlovely. 

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

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