Have you ever thought about what makes a Christian different from the world?
What makes us stand out, identifiable as Christ-followers?
If you had to name just one thing, what would it be?
How will the world know we’re Christians, after all?
The Distinguishing Mark of Christians
If your answer is “by our love,” you’re correct.
Well, make that halfway correct.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
Did you catch those last three words?
They happen to be pretty important.
Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples here, not to the multitudes. He was not instructing mankind in general to care about people.
He was commanding His followers to love each other.
How is it that this verse is referenced time and time again in relation to a Christian’s attitude toward sinners?
“You won’t win anyone over with a boycott. They’ll know we’re Christians by our love.”
“You shouldn’t hold such strong beliefs about sin. They’ll know we’re Christians by our love.”
“What’s it to you if he wants to marry him? They’ll know we’re Christians by our love.”
Yes, loving sinners is an important aspect of being like Christ. That’s a platform I’ll stand on until I die.
Because while you and I and every person who has ever lived were still sinners and enemies of God (Colossians 1:21) Christ gave His very life for us (Romans 5:8).
The problem isn’t loving sinners.
The problem is elevating our love for sinners above our love for each other.
The truth is, nowhere in Scripture does God say that our love for sinners will distinguish us as belonging to Him.
That doesn’t mean it’s an impossible scenario. But it does mean that from the perspective of the onlooking world, the most powerful thing they can observe is us loving each other.
And so I kind of think Christ-following people ought not chastise other Christ-following people for holding convictions that some find offensive.
We ought not rebuke each other for living our faith out loud.
For holding fast to the gospel.
For thinking and walking and talking in a way that’s counter-cultural.
It means we need to grant grace as lavishly as we’ve received it when it comes to preferences and opinions, realizing that while there are a few things we know for sure, there’s an awful lot we still have no idea about.
Will you commit with me to showing love to your fellow believers? For allowing that love to make a difference in the way we dialogue with them, and the way we dialogue about them?
Will you let it impact your giving and your serving? Your schedule and your wallet? Your thoughts and your actions?
Imagine the impact Christ’s Church could have if we just believed what He said about this, and then obeyed.
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10