Saturday, December 21, 2013

How Will They Know I Am A Christian?

                I woke this morning to a song. Sometimes, the Lord wakes me with a song on my heart and I know that is what He wants to speak to me about. So, I picked up my Bible and my pen and followed His leading. The song that I awoke to is “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” How true this is, my brothers and sisters, how true this is. As I prayed and listened, I found myself opening to John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
                Most of us when we read these words will understand that to be a disciple of Christ means that we will love others. Just this past week, our women’s study group finished the gospel of John and all of us have felt the urging from the Lord to apply what we have learned. To take His word out, to spread the gospel, to serve and love those who are broken, who are lost and who are lonely. We talked about what true ministry looks like. We talked about laying down ourselves and taking Christ to our community. Being a disciple of Christ is more than just going to Church on Sunday and talking about love, being a disciple of Christ is putting that love on and walking in it.
                One of the things that bothers me the most in our churches today is the fake love that is so present in the body. We get the greetings, we get the hugs, we get the “I will pray for you”, but there is never any follow through. We see the broken and the needy coming into our churches today, and we tell them how blessed we are to have them with us, but then, nothing. Nothing happens; no ministry is followed through with. Jesus tells us that the world around us will know we are His because they will see the love we have for others and will associate us with Him. Unfortunately, I do not see a whole lot of this today in our churches. I see a shadow of it, but I do not see the actual body of love being spread to the lost and broken around us. (However, there are a few select churches that do, and thankfully I am part of one of them)
                Saying we are Christians is easy, but actually walking it out and loving as Christ loved seems to be the difficult part. To love as Christ loves means that we lay down our own selves to minister, love on, and encourage those who are in need. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16) We get so caught up in doing ministry within the confines of the church we attend; that we forget ministry- for a Christian- is reaching out to the lost, the broken, the hurting and the destitute. Ministry is what we are called to do as Christians, and nowhere in the Bible do I see that it has to be within the approved guidelines of the church you attend.
               
We live in a world that is lost and broken, and in desperate need of Christ. But what do they see, what does the world see when they look at us Christians today? They see fighting among us, pride lifting one denomination up over another as better than the other. They see the Church as hypocrites, (because, let’s face it, we are) they see the Church as helping themselves rather than reaching out to others. They see our condemnation, our judging, and they see us as no different as they are. What about our walks as Christians separates us from the world? From what I am seeing, not a whole lot; in fact, what I see is fake love, a desire to exalt oneself above the other and a desire to be better than that other church down the road. When did Christ seek to be above another? When did Christ seek a title?
                “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in Him? My little children, let us not love in word or tongue but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) The world around us will know we are Christians by our love, not our words. You can lift your hands on Sunday, and worship the Lord in this great emotional high, but unless you take that worship out to the lost and broken, what is the point of it all? How many of us are willing to take what we have and give it to a homeless man on the street? How many of us are willing to go out on a Saturday and walk the streets sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others?
             Some of us have been in churches where you are not really encouraged to “go out” unless it is approved and prayed over by the pastor and elders. Is that in the Bible? Is the pastor or elders the ones who directed the disciples in the book of Acts to go out, or what is Jesus, leading through the Holy Spirit putting it into the hearts of His disciples to go and spread the gospel? Peter and John did not tell Phillip that he could not go out and minister to someone because it was not something they felt he needed to do. Phillip went out as he was led by the Holy Spirit. Paul, Barnabas, all the Apostles and disciples were led by the Spirit, not man. The pastor and elders of the early church prayed over them, but never discouraged them from going. Maybe if we started following the Holy Spirit and not the “church” maybe then the world around us would see and know that we are Christians. (*Note- there is a difference when wanting to start a ministry within the church body- that should be discussed with your pastor and elders. But just going out and sharing the gospel, and ministering to others- that is between you and Jesus.)
                We are known as Christians because we love. Love not in the emotional sense, but love as laying down ourselves and our desires for the sake of those who need it most. True ministry is meeting the needs of others, right where they are at. One of my sisters in the Lord talked about how the Lord told her to go and give a homeless man some money. She said that she had heard not to do that because they may spend it on booze or drugs. But the Lord told her it wasn’t about the money, it was about the message. This was an opportunity to share His word with someone; the money was just the tool God would use to get to the heart of this person. How many of us have withheld money because we were more focused on the money rather than the message.
                How many of us are willing to go and buy a bag of groceries and give them to a homeless person, walk up to them, tell them about Jesus and pray with them? How many of us are willing to show the world we live in that we are Christians? How many of us are willing to lay down our own self to minister to those who need Jesus? Jesus tells us that they will know us by our love. He did not say that they will know we are Christians because we go to church on Sunday, and serve in a ministry there. No, He said they will know we are Christians by our works of love towards others. What we do for Christ is as important as who we are in Christ. Saying we are Christians means absolutely nothing to the world around us, but being a Christian, well, that can change the world.

                I want to encourage each and every person who reads this blog to go out and be the church. We need to take the church out of the confines of the building we attend and become the Christians Jesus desires us to be. We will show the world we are Christians by our love. Are we willing to do that? I pray the Lord Jesus Christ would convict and convince us all who profess to be Christians to be known by our love. In Jesus Name, to Him be the glory, Amen and Amen. 
Link to "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love"- Jars of Clay