This is a year for making a difference and seeing an impact on the world in which you live. If you call yourself a Christian, how do you see that taking place? Are you dedicating your life to living out a new year’s resolution, setting new priorities and goals? Are you committing to connecting to more people, being more social, more hospitable? What about being less mean, stressed, pessimistic or negative? Whatever the case may be, this is the time of year where we can all begin to rethink some things.
When Jesus walked the earth with his disciples, one of the things that he conveyed to them was that the way the world would know that they were his disciples was by the love they showed. Clearly, this gives us indication that Jesus was not the only one to have disciples. It’s also an indication that love was not something that other disciple-makers were emphasizing as being germane to their character and conduct. In my personal opinion, I believe that this is the bar of success that Christ set for the Church to attain to.
Have you noticed that there are many within Church who emphasize other things as a measure for success? Some will say that numbers of souls saved or increased membership is a worthy goal. Other will say that community outreach and global impact are a good measure for success. All of these things are good and worthy of doing. However, Jesus does not highlight or stress these as primary or having priority over love.
Even the apostles Paul and John both stress the importance of love for the believing Christian. John say that you cannot call yourself a son of God without love being a part of your nature, for God is love (See 1 John 4). Paul says that anyone who does anything apart from it being based in loved is worthless (See 1 Corinthians 13).
One thing that Jesus and Paul both stress is that love is something that is unconditional or possessing any other motive other than being loving. This is not to say that we should not be motivated or goal oriented towards anything. However, love should be the primary motivation behind the things we do. If people are to know us by our love, then that means that when they see us, it has to be abundantly apparent and observable that we are being loving and that love is who we are, even as God is love. Therefore, regardless of what your career path is, your yearly plan is, or your stage of life, you can be identified by the world as a Christ-follower by your capacity to love.
Love is expressed in many different ways and nuances, so it will look different in any given circumstance. Because of this, I hesitate to give a single example. However, we can all look to the life of Jesus who modeled what that looks like, especially since his expectation was that those who followed him would likewise be known.
Jesus remembered and had compassion for the forgotten and neglected of society. He made provision for them, healed the, lifted up out despair, fed them, honored them, protected them, and even died for them. Love, if you know nothing else is sacrificial. So, in whatever way you choose to go this year, your love will be known by the degree of your sacrifice.
A great example of this can be seen in the story of the old widow who gave an offering that Jesus said was greater than that of many of the rich in that day. Her offering was seen as greater, not because of the amount, but because it was a greater sacrifice in comparison to that of those who were richer than her. When Cain and Abel gave offerings, Abel’s was seen as greater because of the value of the sacrifice.
This year, your sacrifice and love will separate you from the masses. People will see you, your heart and even your Godly sonship through your love. May your year be filled by the joy of being known by the love you show. May those who see you be drawn to the Christ in you. May they be blessed by it and find it as the catalyst for taking their life in a direction leading to God the Father.
QUESTION: What is your hope and expectation as a disciple of Christ?