“By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endues all things,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
These two passages are arguably the most famous verses about love. Love is a concept promoted by Christians. It is a thing acknowledged by atheists and agnostics. Something every man, woman, and child strives to obtain every day. Love is something we all know about and all desire. But so often it seems to be the most difficult thing for us to practice.
As Christians, we have no excuse for not knowing what love is. First Corinthians, 13, tells us in no uncertain terms. And Christ tells us in John 13 that the world will know that we belong to Jesus if we practice this love. But how often do we think of those two scriptures as one command? How often do we piece together the how and the what of love in our own lives? The ramifications of doing so present a clearly defined, but difficult life. If we combine 1 Corinthians 13 and John 13 what would our lives look like? How would people come to recognize Christians? Well, they know us by our patience. They would know that we are Christians by our contentment, modesty, and humility. They would recognize us, for we would not be rude. We would seek the best for others, be difficult to make angry, and refuse to keep count of how many times we’ve been hurt. They would know us because evil makes us sad, and truth makes us happy. They would know us because we protect the defenseless and we do not live in suspicion of others.
They would know us by our hope. They would know us by our perseverance. That is what love looks like. Those should be the marks of Christ’s disciples. Often when the world hears ‘Christian,’ they do not think of this love. They think patriotic. They think of rules. They think of stingy, bad-tips, who blindly vote, and will judge you if you drink or use four-letter words. That might not be fair. That might not be you. But it’s still your responsibility to change what the world thinks of Christians. It’s still your responsibility to demonstrate that radical love Paul described to the Corinthians.
Because then, one by one, people might start to know Jesus a little better. Because then, one by one, we could really reach the world with this radical, biblical, Christ-like love. Find one relationship or duty in your life that lacks love—and change it.