Monday, October 12, 2015

John 13:34-35 (NRSV): We are Known by our Love

John 13:34-35 (NRSV): We are Known by our Love

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Sometimes I equate witnessing my faith to what Walt Whitman writes in “Song of Myself”: “I sound my barbaric yawp from the rooftops of the world.” In essence, I want to scream and shout, fill giant LCD screens in Times Square, and paint the sky with aeronautical smoke displaying that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

Witnessing our love for God is a good thing, but our t-shirts, wristbands, and bumper stickers can sometimes function as the phylacteries, long garments, and tassels the Pharisees wore in the square when they prayed in public (see Matthew 23:5), externals that call attention to ourselves rather than God.

Jesus, however, in the beginning of the Book of Glory in John’s Gospel, tells His disciples something different: We are known by our love.  According to Scripture, the true testament of being Christ’s followers is how much we love God and neighbor, and in this passage, Jesus emphasizes our love for neighbor. The phrase “love one another,” for example, is repeated three times in these verses alone.

As I put away the bells and whistles of excited advertisement, I ask God to grant me the grace to love the person in front of me more, even when it is a difficult task. For as Christians, we are known by our love.

May you all be blessed and encouraged in the love and peace of Christ.  

Stan