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Oct 2013

A Loving Church in a Dying Culture

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

In his book The Mark of the Christian, Francis Schaeffer says that love is the church’s ultimate apologetic. If that is true, then what we say, and the way we treat each other, is pretty important. In a culture that is prone to “pack up our toys and go home” the first time we get our feelings hurt, Jesus’ followers are called to something deeper. Schaeffer had this to say:

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 people know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present 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. – The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer, The Standard of Quality, p. 12-13

That’s pretty frightening. Jesus turns to the world and says, “I’ve got something to say to you. On the basis of my authority, I give you a right: you may judge whether or not someone is a Christian or not on the basis of how they show love to all true Christians.” Schaeffer concludes this way:

What then shall we conclude but that as the Samaritan loved the wounded man, we as Christians are called upon to love all people as neighbors, loving them as ourselves. Second, that we are to love all true Christians in a way that the world may observe. This means showing love to our fellow Christians in the midst of our differences-great or small-loving them when it costs us something, loving them even under times of tremendous emotional tension, loving them in a way the world can see.

In short, we are to practice and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God, for without this we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Love-and the unity it attests to-is the mark Christ gave Christian’s to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father. – The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer, The One True Mark, p. 35

As Christians, may we adorn themselves with love. Not just for those who don’t know Jesus; but for each other. And may we have a deep unity (John 17), and not merely a shallow organizational unity. May our love as Christians show the world something about God: namely the love he has shown us through his son Jesus. “According to the Scripture and the teaching of Christ, the love that is shown is to be exceedingly strong. It is not just something you mention in words once in a while.” (p. 21)


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