“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17, NIV
If someone were trying to give a description of you, what kinds of things would they say? Physical attributes are pretty easy to explain, tall or medium height, brown, black or blonde hair. Maybe you are easy to describe because you have a particular personality trait, such as laughs a lot, tells jokes or maybe you’re quiet and reserved. Sometimes, with the people who know us best, they can identify us by our actions, good, bad or indifferent. In today’s world of technology, snapping a photograph with our cell phone is one way to capture one’s outward appearance but a picture doesn’t say anything about demeanor or character; those qualities require some sense of knowledge and personal experience with a person, often through interacting, especially in the course of sharing meaningful activities.
An older hymn we used to sing in church had words that went something like this, “and they will know us by our love.” For some reason, these words and tune keep running through my mind of late; perhaps because of so much unrest in our society and the world at large. Probably like most of you, I listen to the news and wonder what I can do from my small corner of the world to make it a better place. When I read the Scriptures in the Bible, especially the four gospels where Jesus speaks to either His disciples or the multitudes of followers, one glaring characteristic of our Lord that stands out is that He was never flustered, not even once. As He hung on the cross, suffering physically from the nails driven into His hands and feet, Jesus cried out to His Father in heaven, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV).
With so much confusion, anger and even hatred being acted out today in cities all across our nation, I wonder if you and I can follow the example of Jesus, and indeed live up to His command, that we “love each other?” There are no conditions, only a command. God, give us compassion for others. Give us the patience to listen more and speak less. Let us love with the same love with which You sacrificed Your life for ours. When we go out into the world, let us leave behind the sweet aroma of Christ. Amen.