By Franklin Camp
Since the dawn of the Restoration, we have been trying to get the world to recognize us as the people of God. We have reminded them that “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.” This is a good slogan and is true to the scriptures.
But what does the Bible say about convincing people that we are the disciples of Christ? Let Christ answer; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). Could this not be the main reason that we have not been able to convince the world that we are the people of God?
Look at the situation in John 13. Christ is standing in the shadow of the cross. The disciples have been full of resentment toward one another. At times they had fought and quarreled about who would be the greatest, and were still doing so (see Luke 22:24). Such action might be expected from people of the world, but surely not from the Lord’s disciples. Christ knew that the difference in temperament and the jealousies which He had witnessed would alienate them from one another unless some powerful cohesive force was found to hold these in check. This mutual love would be a badge of discipleship and a foundation for unity. The disciples were ready to fight for a throne but not for a towel.
The point here is clear and is of great value for us today, also. A lack of love for one another has caused too many in the church to fight for positions of recognition rather than places of service.
Another thing to note in John 13 is that purity of faith by itself will not bring unity. The men to whom Christ gave this example and command would be infallible in their instructions, as they would be guided by the Holy Spirit and would not be subject to error in their teaching (cf. John 14:26; 16:13). Christ realized that infallible men in teaching, if lacking in love, would not be able to save or to convince the world that they were His disciples.
So, another point for us to glean today is the reminder that if such as the disciples who were with Christ needed love for one another to insure unity, how much more do we today need it? Let us always endeavor to teach the truth, but also to practice brotherly love, for only this will convince the world that we truly are people of a loving God. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).
- Franklin Camp (adapted by Edd Sterchi); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org