Friday, August 25, 2006

By this all men will know....

One topic which has come up on here a bit (and understandably so) is how people know, or come to know, that Jesus is God. And yes, there are plenty of intellectual arguments we could go down, and I've been down some of them on here and pointed people to others.

But what is striking in the Bible is that by and large, they aren't what persuades people. Yes, there's evidence that some of them were used (Acts 9:22, 18:28). It's not what persuades most people in real life either, because at the end of the day, I don't think we're very good at debating stuff that really matters in an abstract way. We want to see it affect us and affect other people.

Here's some of what Jesus said:

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:35, NIV

May they [Christians] be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you [God the Father] sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:23, NIV

In other words, the key evidence for the world that Jesus came from the Father, the key evidence that God loves people, the key evidence that "Christians" are following Jesus is that we (Christians) love one another.

That's not love in a sexual sense or in a "I love New York" sense. It's love in the sense of laying oneself down for another.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11, NIV

Now I find this immensely challenging. So Christians, are you living in such a way that you are pointing people to Jesus? I think sometimes some of us get too complacent or too busy contending to be loving properly. Non-Christians, if you want evidence that Jesus is who he said he is, then look at the lives of Christians and at their attitude to other people.

[Yes, I accept there's an element of self-authentication - that Christians are those who love and that love in Christians is evidence for Jesus. But the point is that Jesus says there are Christians who love in a way that non-Christians, in general, do not. That's not because we're better than other people, it is because we have known God's love, which in't deserved and which transforms us.]

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