I’m not really one for “cool Christian t-shirts.” Not judging anyone who likes to wear “God puts the AWE in awesome” on their chest . . . not saying anything about those who sport a big flexed bicep on their back for “God’s Gym” . . . it’s just not me. Though I do recall once having a t-shirt with a couple of empty high top runners on it . . . smoke kind of rising from them . . . a couple of feet in the top of the picture, having been sucked out of the runners, obviously on their way up to somewhere . . . with the caption, “In the twinkling of an eye . . . 1Cor. 15:52 ” Ok, so maybe I might wear a t-shirt if it was cool like that. But normally, that’s not my preferred method of declaring my allegiance to Christ. This morning I’m reminded of another way to witness . . . another means of declaring I’m His . . . .another way of letting people know I’m a follower of Christ.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – Jesus (John 13:34-35)
I love the church . . . not some building . . . but the assembly of God’s people. While God, in His grace, used a friend and the Word to save me, it was being welcomed into a small gathering of believers that, in many ways, sealed the deal. Though I was first grabbed by the simplicity of sitting around the Lord’s table to enjoy the Lord’s supper together . . . though the text on the wall, “Be Still and Know that I am God,” seemed to penetrate my being and invite me into a place I knew little about . . . it was the authentic care and love of the people around the table that would evidence for me that this new found faith was real. Not any who were necessarily “wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1Cor. 1:26) . . . but people who really seemed to love the Lord and to love another.
Before I left for college, brother Bob invited me over to his place for a chat. While I vaguely recall some of what was said in his office, the one thing that rings as clear today as the day I heard it . . . the words I’m still able to quote from that conversation with that man of God some 35 years later . . . the exhortation that continues to ring like a clarion bell for me was, “Pete, love the people of God.”
A new commandment I give to you, that you love another.
The body of believers I now gather with take the banner, “A Family Growing Together” . . . and we are. Now I know that some come from such a dysfunctional upbringing that the idea of a family is far from an inviting idea . . . but the concept of a family should bring to mind a safe place . . . a place where there is acceptance . . . a place to grow through nurturing . . . a place to go when you’re feeling a bit beat up and just need a hug. And there’s something about a group of people who are not blood-relatives loving one another as though they were that causes others to take note.
All people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
The love of believers one for another . . . the reality of the family of God behaving like a family . . . what a powerful witness to a lost world.
Let us heed the call. Let us so love the people of God that outsiders will know we’re followers . . . not because of the clothes we wear, but because of the way we care.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .