Friday, March 10, 2023

Being a Redheaded Christian

Suggested Reading: John 13:31-38

If you ever see me or my wife in public with our kids it is impossible to not know who our children belong to. Both of the kids have the same bright red hair as my wife and the same facial structure that runs on my side of the family. Even if they wanted to, my children could not deny who they belong to. When we go out to eat with large groups, it is very easy for our waiter or waitress to know exactly who belongs on our check.

In a similar way, the people we interact with should experience the same kind of certainty that we belong to Jesus. But how, exactly, does that work? It's not as if people can look at us, like they look at my children, and notice the physical resemblance. So what is it that people can see that lets them know we belong to Jesus. I'm sure we could come up with lists of things: compassion, caring for the poor, righteous living, honesty, integrity, loving our neighbor as ourselves. All of those things are important, of course, and we should be characterized by those things. But none of them are the thing that causes people to recognize our affiliation with Jesus when they see them.

In John 13, immediately after Jesus' last supper with the disciples before his crucifixion and after Judas had left to betray him, Jesus told the disciples, "I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another" (John 13:34-35, HCSB). According to Jesus' words here, there are two important things necessary for people to recognize that we belong to Jesus. First, they must see us, as believers, loving one another. Of all the things that we can do, Jesus pointed to this one thing as the primary marker that would let everyone know we belong to him. Not being loving in general. Not even loving our neighbors as ourselves. Not being non-judgmental. But loving each other - our fellow believers. Is it any wonder that the world doesn't believe we belong to a resurrected Lord when we are often better known for fighting each other and arguing with each other than for loving each other?

But the second thing Jesus's words require if people are to recognize that we belong to him is that people must see us together. We cannot be seen to love each other if we are not seen with each other. More than that, we cannot be seen to love each other if we are not seen to love being with each other. Do you really believe that people love each other when they never want to be around each other?  Is it even possible to love someone if you are never together? At least in a biblical, unconditional, love-is-a-choice-not-just-a-feeling kind of way?

Do you want to convince the people in your school or office or neighborhood that Jesus is real and that you belong to him? Let them see you with other believers, actively loving each other the way that Jesus loved us. By this all people will know  that we belong to him.

Only Casting Out the Annoying Demons

Suggested Reading: Acts 16:16-34 There is a sentence in Acts 16 that has always bugged me. Paul and Silas were in Philippi as missionari...