BY REV. JENNIFER HESEBECK - FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH AND EXCELSIOR UMC
Not long before Jesus went to the cross, He left His disciples with some important words that would be vital to their success in taking the message of Jesus to others. This information is still vital in introducing others to Jesus. Without it, people are likely to remain lost. These words of Jesus are found in John 13:35: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
We can preach and teach and shout and plead about Christ all day long to everyone we meet, but if they don't see an active, positive difference in our lives as a result of our following Christ they will likely not want any part in Him themselves.
So, what does a Christian look like? You can pick a military officer out of a crowd because of the uniform. A police officer, a firefighter. You see someone wearing a hard hat and assume them to be in construction or some type of hazardous work environment. A doctor is probably wearing a white coat or hospital scrubs. What is a Christian wearing? What do they look like? What color is their skin, their hair? Are they tall, short, well dressed? Do they look like you? How are other people going to know that we are Christians?
Well, it just so happens that the late Peter Raymond Scholtes wrote a song about this very thing. Back in the 1960s, serving at that time as a parish priest and choir leader, he wrote the hymn "They'll Know We Are Christians" for an ecumenical event. It is inspired by John 13:35, and the title of the hymn originates in a phrase that non-believers used to describe Christian believers of early Church: "Behold, how they love one another."
The lyrics of this song may seem simple but they speak volumes, and they remain relevant to each generation to learn this song:
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord – we pray that all unity may one day be restored. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand – and together we'll spread the news that God is in our land. We will work with each other, we will work side by side – and we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride. All praise to the Father, from whom all things come – and all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son – and all praise to the Spirit, who makes us one. All this tied together by the refrain: They'll know we are Christians by our love – by our love – yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.
(© 1966, F.E.L. Publications, assigned to The Lorenz Corp., 1991)
The way we treat others is vital in being able to reach those around us with the message of Christ. We can show our love in the way we talk to/about each other, whether in person or on social media. Our love is shown in the way we respond in times of crisis. It's shown in our times of celebration for one another. It's shown when we choose to spend our time in service to the Lord. When we show love in our lives to others (both Christian and non-Christian) we show the world what Jesus has done for us and what He can do for them.
It may not be our clothes, our hairstyle, or our job that represents our faith – but how we act and treat one another – that's what should stand out. Loving as Jesus loved us is what will set us apart. I pray that we may be recognized as Christ followers!