I go to a very diverse university where there are many people from different cultures. Some differences are easy to spot: darker features versus lighter features, tall versus short, thinner bodies versus thicker bodies, and so on.
So the other day, as most days when I am on campus, I saw a group of Muslim girls walking together. I knew they were Muslim by their beautiful hijabs, or head coverings. To me, this is a sign of modesty, and I love that they wear head coverings – I respect that a lot. But this got me thinking. It’s easy to spot a (female) Muslim because of their Hijabs. It’s easy to spot a Jewish person because of their Kippah (hat).
How do you spot a Christian?
I can’t look through a crowd of people and pick out the Christians, and often times even having a full on conversation with someone, it’s difficult to know whether or not they are followers of God. So how do we show people we are Christians without running up to them and telling them, “hey, I’m a Christian!”?
In John 13:34, Jesus tells us the answer.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
This means people should be able to have a handful of conversations with us and be able to spot a difference – they should feel love. This doesn’t mean a selfish love where are gaining something from loving that person; rather, it means a GOD kind of love – Loving without expecting anything in return. Loving people just as God loves us. [Romans 5:8]
If we walk in the Spirit, meaning we walk in constant relation with God, all of these things become possible. [Matthew 19:26 ]
Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth instructs Christians to live in the way of love.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. [1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13]
Love does not insist on its own way.
This really stuck out to me. It’s so easy to get caught up in “loving” people when they are nice to us, or the same as us, or when we get something from them. But how often do we love people in a sacrificial way?
Again, this goes back to living in the Spirit.
We are naturally selfish beings. Everything we do is motivated by self-interest. This has been proven in scriptures, the scientific theory of evolution, and it’s been discussed by philosophers for thousands of years.
We are naturally selfish, so if we want to love like God loves, we have to be walking in his Spirit.
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at time another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence? [MSG]
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.[Galatians 5:16-18 MSG, 19-24 ESV]
This caused me to reflect over my life. Am I living in accordance with the Spirit? Am I really loving people the way God loves?
What we need most is love.
It is our duty as Christians to be spreading that love like a wildfire, consuming everything in our path with love. All too often, we get caught up in our own lives and we focus on ourselves: we miss out on opportunities to love because we are not walking with the spirit.
So I urge you to ask yourself:
Am I walking with the Spirit?
Am I loving like God loves