Read: "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35, NLT).
Think About It: "60 years." That was the answer when I had asked how long they had been married. "60 years." Many years and children later, theirs was truly a life that had seen much. They had lived to see the other side of some of life's toughest moments. They shared times of great rejoicing and excitement. What lingers in my mind the most when I consider this couple who has stood together the test of time and trial is their obvious and evident love for one another. They both walk closer to the ground these days, sometimes with canes, while at other times with walkers. He's always right behind her, making sure everything's ok. She says he's just admiring the view! Rarely apart, they can be seen sitting together, praying together, and lifting their hands in worship together. I look at them and I see the love of Jesus, the strongest bond in any union. When I see them, I know that a marriage where God is honored first, succeeds. I can see that the love of God is real. Observing their life, I am reminded of the sustaining power of prayerful communication with God. They show it. I see it. It's believable.
Going Deeper: At the time of Jesus, there was no shortage of religion. The Law of Moses had been taught and re-taught. Religious ceremonies were a dime a dozen, and there was ample supply of pharisaic scholars that could attempt an answer to most any question about God. Where there was a gross deficiency, however, was tangible evidence of the love of God, what it was, what it could do through others, and how it could change lives. Jesus knew His followers would have more credibility in leading others to the love of God, if they were actually living out that love with one another. If they were constantly tangled in relentless tension, conflict, unforgiveness, bitterness, and grudges, who would ever believe they had been changed by love of Jesus they preached. It has to be “liveable” before it will be believable. When people see you, do they see Jesus? That question is also to be answered in the context of community. Do they see Jesus, or do they see complaining, gossip, prideful power-plays, and contention? What the world needed then and still needs now is love. They see it in Jesus. They must see it in those that shadow Jesus.
Next Step: Though it's much easier to step back and look at all you might not like in your church or community of Christ-followers, try something different. Step back in. Look at yourself with the same focused and assessing eyes. What are you doing to love more like Jesus in the community God has placed you? Is there someone you've offended? Go to them. Ask for forgiveness. Is there someone who's hurt you? Forgive them now. Talk to them. Deal with what will not deal with itself. Step out and encourage someone. Tell them you love them, appreciate them, want to get to know them a little better. Send a card, make a call, show some love. They'll benefit from it. You'll be blessed. The world will see Jesus.