THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
What defines a “Christian” for you? What are the most important qualities that reflect true faith in Jesus? Is it believing that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God? Is it maintaining complete and absolute sexual purity? Is it refraining from using bad language? Is it regular attendance at worship? Is it being consistent in daily prayer and Bible reading? It may surprise you that none of these things seemed to be important to Jesus when it comes to identifying his followers. Jesus had only one thing that defined his disciples – love. In the Gospel reading that is set for today, Jesus says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Our capacity to love others practically and sacrificially, as Jesus did, is the only defining quality of being a follower of Jesus. The world does not know that we are Jesus’ disciples through our doctrine, our church attendance, our modesty in dress, or our rejection of those whom we consider to be sinners. The world can only know that we follow Jesus through our love.
Part of the problem we have with Jesus’ “new commandment” is to identify who the “one another” that we should love is. Is Jesus referring only to those who are in our group, our church, or our denomination? Is he referring only to those in the Christian faith? If we look only at today’s passage in isolation from the rest of the New Testament, we may be tempted to view this “one another” this way. But, when we place these words in context, we discover that we are instructed to love our neighbours, which includes those who are very different from us (see the Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example). We are also instructed to love our enemies – which is what Jesus did. So, this “one another” seems to keep expanding to include all people. Whenever we encounter another person, in whatever circumstance, we are called to love them. This alone reveals to others that we are followers of Jesus.
This call to love will be the focus of our meditations this week.
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