“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
If you think this is a post about Kanye, you may be a little disappointed. It’s not. Well, maybe a bit. Maybe 5% Kanye, 95% me. Moving on.
I normally think pretty hard about what I post on social media. Unless it’s a picture of my girls – then I have no discrimination whatsoever. But if it is a thought or belief, I try to be mindful. What I post is a reflection of not only me, but my family, my church, and my God. I have quite a few extremely liberal friends on social media, people from all walks of life, and to be honest, I think about them every time I post. Is what I am saying repelling them or drawing them? It’s not that I believe I will “convert” someone through my posts. I mean, seriously. Who has ever been converted through a Facebook post? When has one Facebook argument made someone change their mind? Jesus didn’t say that we will be known by how well we can argue with those who don’t believe the same things we do. Jesus didn’t say that condemnation and bashing and yelling will draw us to repentance. No. It’s the “goodness of God [that] leadeth thee to repentance.” Romans 2:4. He says that it is “…with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3
Wow, what a burden has been lifted off our shoulders. It is not our job, our calling, our responsibility to look at everyone we disagree with and say “you’re wrong!” In John 13, Jesus was preparing His disciples for His soon departure. He was telling them that soon He would be going where they couldn’t follow. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:33-35
It seems to me that this is our commandment as long as we are on this earth. To love one another. Not only that, but to love one another as Christ loved us. That is not some casual, flowers only on Valentines, kinda love. That is some serious laying-down-your-life, drinking from the cup kinda love.
Am I living that way? Am I loving that way?
Is my love so flagrant and outrageous and so VERY MUCH that people look at me and say, “she’s different”? Am I known for my love? Can someone take a scroll through what I’ve posted and see love overshadowing it all? Or is it dripping with self-righteousness? Is it saturated in personal opinion?
I do not claim to be a Bible scholar, but I can’t think of an example where Jesus looked at someone who didn’t know Him, who didn’t claim to worship God, who wasn’t a Christian at all, and just blasted them. Sure, I can think of a time He flipped tables. Of a time He completely rebuked people. But the table flipping was in the temple. It was in His church. It was toward people of God who weren’t properly respecting His house. I can think of a time (multiple!) that He rebuked Pharisees. The religious scholars of the day. The people claiming to have a grasp and knowledge on all religion. He got mad at them.
But did He get mad at the woman who was caught in adultery and then brought to Him? Did He quote the law to her? Did He bash her? No, He said, “he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7
Did He take a second to examine the diseased man at the pool of Bethesda? Did He say, I’ll save you, but first you need to dress this way, look this way, act this way? Nope. He just asked Him if he wanted to be made whole, if the sick man wanted Him, and then He said “rise, take up thy bed, and walk.” John 5:8. And the man was made whole.
But God’s love and mercy and goodness doesn’t mean we can take advantage of Him. All of these people that He drew with His lovingkindness? He made sure to tell them to turn from their ways. Once their eyes were opened to their sin and their depths of needing a Savior, He told them to stop sinning.
The adulterous woman? “… go, and sin no more.” John 8:11
The diseased man? “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” John 5:14
He offered them hope, unconditional love, freedom, and salvation. THEN after they were changed, He told them to get their act together and stop sinning.
My pastor, Tim Gill, said “Truth and love seems to be how Jesus handled sinners. A whip and a shout seems to be how He handled those who abused His house.”
Are we sharing our thoughts in love? Or with a shout? When we think about our friends on our Facebook feeds who do not recognize Christ, it should make us want to post differently. It should make us want to write in truth and love. If the only way we know how to talk about these topics is with a whip and a shout, maybe we need to take a little break. Maybe we need to stop talking. Sure, get angry at the devil. Get furious that hundreds of thousands of babies aren’t given the gift of life a year. Talk with your fellow saints, those already in full knowledge of God’s Word, about how broken and mad that makes you feel. But let’s not share that fury with the girl who doesn’t know Jesus and is contemplating abortion. Maybe we should take a cue from Jesus. Maybe we should reach out in love, not condemnation. Maybe we should offer some hope, not hate. Maybe we should offer some resources. Maybe we should share the truth of how God views us and loves us and is enough to cover us.
We will be known by our love. So let’s act like it.