The late founder of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and author of The Mark of a Christian, Francis Schaeffer, wrote about Jesus’ desire for His people. (You can find it in John 13:34, 35.)
“The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians.” (italics mine) He adds: “That’s pretty frightening.” I agree. Since Jesus gave the world the authority to judge us, we might ask ourselves, “How are we doing?”
From my perch, more and more I am struck with increasing polarization within our evangelical community. Of course, we will often find differences in our interpretation of God’s truth. (Not much different from the differences of the early churches, right? Take a look at the letters of the New Testament as well as books that cover early church history.) But how are we handling those conversations in these days? Are we expressing our thoughts cautiously, kindly, lovingly with old-fashioned good manners, or do we use combative, superior, self-righteous language? I fear the Internet (Facebook, Twitter, blogs), with its opportunities for a growing number of faceless conversations, has given us a false sense of empowerment to frame our thoughts and responses in boldly Jesus-vision-less ways.
Schaeffer sums up, “In other words, if people come up to us and cast in our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative Jesus gave them.”
Or in Jesus words, “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Ah, there it is: humility.
God, please give us hearts of love toward our own, so that we may authentically show the world: we are Yours!
Melinda Schmidt is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and holds a Broadcasting/Bible degree from Calvary Bible College. She has served with Moody Radio since 1980 in various hosting capacities. Married with two young adult children, Melinda lives outside Chicago, loves reading, developing her creative interests and hopes to be a life-long learner. Twitter: @melindaschmidt