Have you ever thought of what characteristics make Christians, well, Christians? How do people know that we are Christians? Perhaps the way we dress, or talk. Maybe the fact that we put “Christian paraphernalia” all over our vehicles and bodies. The reality is that the number one characteristic of a Christian must be the one thing that the One who the movement is named after demonstrated in all of His life. Love! Love for God, love for others, love for each other. In fact the apostle John wrote in his first epistle that “If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.”(1 John 3:14)
No Love = No Life
If one wanted to they would be able to open the bible and read from cover to cover finding that love is a main theme. Love of God for His people and His interaction, or pleading with them to turn back to the One who loves them is written all over the pages. However, since Christianity is the topic of discussion then we should turn to the biggest act of love that God has shown to His creation in that He sent His only Son to die on our behalf. (John 3:16) It was love that was the cause for this, His love for us and all of His creation that motivated the whole Jesus event. The love of the Son who laid down His own life knowing that at any point he could re-nig on the whole thing and not have to suffer. He could have rightfully taken up residence in the temple and ruled the world, but He came in the most humble of situations to live with and love His creation. Love, the motivator of God.
When Jesus was confronted about the law and asked which of them was the greatest He said what was the very beginning of the given law to Moses. He said that that to; “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-40) In John’s epistle Jesus is recorded as saying to His disciples; “34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” in verse 35 He goes even further to say that the world will know we are His disciples based on the way that we love one another! (John 13:34-35)
It would take me years to keep up with this, but I think you get the drift. Jesus says that the world will know we are His disciples by the way we love one another, and that the most important part of the law of Moses is Love; love for God, love for others. We show the world that we are followers of Jesus not by the way we talk, the way we dress, the way we stand out in the world, but the way we love. The way we love changes the way we talk, behave, and makes us stand out because the world is full of hate. It is love that separates us from the world and grace that saves us from it.
What does this mean? This means that just as Jesus went out of His way to touch those labeled as untouchable by the religious laws, ate and with drunks and prostitutes, went out of His way to speak to Gentiles who were considered unclean sinners; we too are to love those outside of our religion, gays, drunks, murderers, other races, and yes, even each other. The reality is this; I don’t care if you can heal the sick, raise the dead, move mountains, speak 47 different languages, or float in the air with a glowing robe, if you do not love it is all worthless. (1 Cor. 13)
Even though I know this is limited and uneducated, the truth is still truth. Love, that is what characterizes followers of Christ.