The Primary Identifying Mark of the Christian

You may be the only Bible some people read.
You may be the only Jesus some people see.

There’s a lot to being a Christian.

There’s worship. There’s fellowship. There’s service. There’s generosity. There’s praying.

All of these things are vital components of what it means to live out the life of a believer.

And each of these components are some of the ways people outside the faith know who we are.

People generally know that Christians do things like:

  • Read their Bibles
  • Go to church
  • Support missionaries

All these activities serve as identifying marks of a follower of Jesus.

But the Bible says there is one characteristic  that stands out above all the rest.

The Christian is to be known for their expression of love.

Jesus said it plainly to His disciples just before He was arrested and crucified:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Right in the middle of this directive from Jesus are these words: “Just as I have loved you…”

Which begs the question: “How had Jesus shown love to His disciples?

Answer: By the humble, practical act of washing their feet.

Jesus love wasn’t just theoretical or limited to feelings. No, Jesus love was revealed in the form of a verb. His love for the disciples was action-oriented.

The late R.C. Sproul put it this way:

In the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do with acting than with feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action.

So, if I may ask, when it comes to this primary identifying mark of the believer, how are we doing?

Are the people who don’t know Jesus astounded by the way the people who do know Jesus care for others?

When people talk about their interactions with Christians, does the conversation usually go to discussing the great demonstrations of love Jesus’ followers display?

Sad to say,  but some of the words used to describe many of us might include words like: judgmental, angry, unfriendly, unavailable, or prideful.

But Jesus said that people will know we are His followers by our love! Not our condemnation…or our hostility…or our haughtiness, but love.

John later reiterated the importance of understanding that love is the mark of the Christian:

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. ~ 1 John 3:10-11

So, once again I ask: How are we doing?

Is love the thing that, more than anything else, other people see in our practice of Christianity?

If not, then can we say we that we are obeying and abiding in Jesus?


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