“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.”
Jesus in John 13: 34-35
Do you remember the character Roz in Monsters Inc? She’s the one with the creepy voice and the unforgettable line,
“I’m watching you, Wazowski, always watching!”
When I hear Jesus’ words in John 13 I think of Roz. People like us who claim to be followers of Jesus are always being watched, both by people who would love to see us trip up and by people who are checking out if there really is anything in this ‘following Jesus’ stuff.
Unfortunately, it’s not our love for one another that often catches people’s attention…
The cartoon was sent to me by a friend who doesn’t think very much of some of our contemporary worship music, but it makes a valuable point…self-righteousness and moral superiority are often the things that people notice, especially in the portrayal of Christians by the media (although a lot of us are guilty as charged sometimes, I’m afraid).
The alignment of the religious right with extreme politics in the USA at the present time is probably not helping!
I believe that there is something intensely ‘political’ about being a follower of Jesus, but we miss the point entirely if we simply align ourselves with a political party, whether on the left, right or centre. When Jesus talked about the Kingdom he had something entirely different in mind…those that followed him were to be part of a radical alternative to the kingdoms of the world, with a very different King to Caesar. The Jewish leaders picked it up, as did the Roman authorities. The statement “Jesus is Lord” flew in the face of the expected affirmation that “Caesar is Lord”, with fatal consequences.
And the basic policy of the Kingdom of God is love…love for your brothers and sisters, love for those who don’t know Jesus yet, love for those that everyone else marginalises and excludes, and even love for those who hate and persecute you.
The fact that people can see our love for one another is a sign of the alternative, grace-filled, inclusive Kingdom of God. This kind of community is attractive in a world that is increasingly fractured along lines of age, race, gender, income, employment status, faith and sexuality (to name but a few). Maybe it’s not so attractive to the rich and powerful…
I often hear people preach about and pray for the need for revival.
I strongly believe that when the believers in a place demonstrate that they love one another, that they are part of a Kingdom that embraces all the things that separate and divide them, and that shared faith is more important than denominational tradition and preference, then something powerful happens. The church starts to function as Jesus Body…
It’s then that watching people, hungry for love, acceptance and a spirituality that works, will be drawn to Jesus.