Summary: Our love isn’t defined by our world, our parents, or even our own feelings but by Jesus’ life. We love one another the way Jesus loved us. What does this mean? Let me give you four marks that you can remember if you can spell the word LOVE.
If I describe various people could you identify the group they belong to? The first are saffron-colored robed men working over a sand painting in the Library downtown? (Followers of the Dalai Lama) What about two guys on bicycles, white shirts, ties and little black badges on their pockets? (LDS) Women dressed in robes that cover their entire bodies except for their eyes? (Islamic dress codes) Consider a family of people walking around the neighborhood streets on Saturday morning with magazines for those who will visit with them? (Jehovah Witnesses) If we move away from religion we could talk of military or police uniforms or the telltale stethoscope that medical professionals often can be seen wearing.
What marks the follower of Jesus apart from the world? Is it the fact that they go to church every week? Corrie Ten-Boom told of a comment her father made about a pastor who had visited them and told them that they shouldn’t be involved in protecting Jews from the Nazi’s. He told her, “just because a mouse is in the cookie jar doesn’t make it a cookie.” What about the clothes we wear—the Christian tee shirt, cross or the like. Could it be the Bible we carry with us to school or work that marks us as a believer? Is it one’s politics or morals?
Stephen Curtis Chapman asks the same question in his song The Change. He begins by saying,
Well I got myself a T-shirt that says what I believe
I got letters on my bracelet to serve as my ID
I got the necklace and the key chain
And almost everything a good Christian needs, yeah
I got the little Bible magnets on my refrigerator door
And a welcome mat to bless you before you walk across my floor
I got a Jesus bumper sticker
And the outline of a fish stuck on my car
And even though this stuff’s all well and good, yeah
I cannot help but ask myself—
What about the change
What about the difference
What about the grace
What about forgiveness
What about a life that’s showing
I’m undergoing the change…
Unlike others the mark that sets a woman or man apart as Christ’s person is the change that he sings about. It doesn’t come from our wardrobe, the way we talk or how “nice” we act toward those we don’t like. It’s found in what we’ve become because of Christ’s presence in our life. Here in John, as Jesus is getting ready to be arrested, he lays it out for his disciples and us. Love, lived out for one another is our mark. Love that is patterned on the love Jesus showed for us. Love that causes the world to recognize that we are Christ’s. Love that demonstrates the glorified Lord is truly the Lord of heaven and earth.
Luke tells us that the night Jesus was betrayed, at the table where they ate the last supper the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest. The writer goes on to share Jesus’ teaching about this. John shows us what Jesus does to make a point. He washes the feet of these followers then tells them, if I wash your feet you should wash one another’s feet. Why? Because it’s the sign of who is really the greatest among them. After the dinner as Judas leaves Jesus comes back to this whole idea of how we live when Jesus isn’t physically present with us. Love is the antidote to the world’s attitude that says, “Grab all you can get. Love not only cures such an attitude but it demonstrates whom we belong to.