Sermon of the week
How world knows we’re Christians
Because opportunities to attend services may be limited for several weeks, the newspaper has invited local clergy to submit sermons for publication here.
Pastor, Marion Presbyterian Church
I was on I-70 recently and passed an RV towing a car. It was one of those huge RVs, the size of a bus.
Behind the behemoth was a smaller vehicle. I can’t tell you the make or model of the vehicle because all I noticed was the awful items on the vehicle. On the license plate and on the hitch were Arizona State University Sun Devil tridents. The very thought makes me sick.
To me, a University of Arizona Wildcat, I have been conditioned to have no love for the school to the north.
We make judgments about people all the time based on what we see, hear, or “know.” It only follows that other people are making judgments about us based on the same things.
Jesus told His followers how people will know who His disciples are. Before I give the answer, let’s explore some ways we, followers of Jesus, believe others will know we are followers of Jesus.
We believe others will know we are disciples of Jesus because of our correct theology. Since the dawn of Christianity there have been debates about theology. Sometimes the debates became so heated that people were actually killed. We believe that Jesus’ main emphasis on discipleship was to be right all the time. Unfortunately the ones who believed they were right all the time were the — Pharisees. Guess who were not known for being disciples of Jesus … the Pharisees.
We believe others will know we are disciples of Jesus because we belong to a certain political party. There are Republicans who believe their party is the Jesus party. There are Democrats who believe their party is the Jesus party. Jesus does not belong to either political party. If He were to come back as a U.S. citizen, He would not register as a member of either party.
We believe others will know we are disciples of Jesus because we have all the Jesus swag. Jesus was baptized by a man living in the desert, wearing camel skins and eating locusts. Anyone have that Jesus swag?
We believe others will know we are disciples of Jesus because we don’t do the things “those” people do. Or, put another way, they will know we are disciples because of our good behavior. (You can throw church attendance in here, as well.) Many of us have this image of gray-haired, white-robed God in heaven putting gold stars next to our names because we are just so good. The prophet Isaiah in 64:6 tells us our good behavior isn’t worth a pile of dirty rags.
If perfect theology, political party, proper attire, and behavior are not the mark of Jesus’ disciples, what is?
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Jesus tells his disciples to love one another just as Christ has loved us (verse 34).
When followers of Jesus insist on tearing one another down, the world does not see followers of Jesus.
When followers of Jesus insist on belittling, attacking, or abandoning one another, the world does not see followers of Jesus.
When followers of Jesus fail to remember we are all made up of the body of Christ, the world does not see followers of Jesus.
When followers of Jesus insist on loving one another with humility and faith, the world sees followers of Jesus. The love of God through Christ is absolutely counter-cultural. It makes no sense that God would pay the price for our sins in order to have a relationship with us. Who does that? God does.
Followers of Jesus are called to love one another in the same manner. The world will know we are disciples of Jesus when we love each other well.
Now more than ever it has become very easy to establish ourselves as “us” vs. “them.” Unfortunately that mindset has entered into the body of Christ, and we find ourselves figuring out which side we belong on, forgetting the entire time we should be focused on being lined up with Jesus Christ, the head of the body of Christ.
May we love one another so that the world may know the love of God!