By Lisa Eargle Peters,
When I was a little girl my daddy was a pastor and there was a song we sang every Sunday at the end of our service called, “We Are One in the Spirit”. I don’t remember thinking much about that song as a child, but recently some of the words came back to me: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love” (John 13:34-35). How many people do you think know you and I are Christians because of the love we show to others? That question makes me wince. If we are to be known by our love, as Jesus was, or lack of it, no wonder the world has such a poor opinion of Christians and the Church.
The thing is, when the words of this song came back to me, I wasn’t even thinking about my greater call in life as a Christian to show the world His love and to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19), I was reflecting on the love that is shown in my own home. Am I pouring out the love of God on my husband and my children? Take everyone else out of the equation, my home is my first and most important area of ministry. If I didn’t tell my family I was a Christian and do all the “Christian” things (i.e. go to church, pray, read my Bible), would they know I am a Christian by the way I love them? Sadly, many times the answer to that question would be “No”.
As a mom who spends large quantities of time with her children (we homeschool, so they are usually with me), I have been thinking much lately about what I am giving to my kids, passing on to them, and storing up in their hearts. In a devotion I read by Anne Graham Lotz, she asks, “What kind of fruit are your children eating within your home?” Are they receiving the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23); or are they being fed anger, selfishness, nagging, impatience, complaining, etc…? That question not only makes me wince, it actually makes me cry. Too often the fruit they are receiving from me is the fruit of my flesh and sin nature, not the fruit of His Spirit. So, my question for you is, what type of fruit are you sharing with the people in
your life? It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay at home mom, a business person, student, whatever you do you have a sphere of influence. How are you influencing those around you? Are you giving them His Spirit dwelling within you or are you peppering them with doses of your selfishness? We are called to live by His Spirit, to give His Life, His Love, point people to Him in everything we say and do. That is something we cannot do, apart from Him.
How will people know we are Christians? When we live a life surrendered to the Lord, recognizing that what is required for us to display the love of Christ is much less of us and more of Him. It requires that we open our hands and hearts, let go of everything we cling to and entrust ourselves fully to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves, allowing His Spirit to lead our words and actions. Then and only then will our families, friends, communities and the world know we are Christians by our love.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”