(In The Life Of The Church)
On Identifying Christians
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- John 13:35
The term Evangelical is under scrutiny. Despite the best efforts of some like Truett's Roger Olson, it may be a lost cause. Even Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, a figure who traditionally has been comfortable with the word’s proximity to conservative politics, has distance himself from it. Despite your political convictions, this is one of the dangers of language and the loss of meaning. What a word means to one individual, might be completely different to what it means to another. When one word is used to describe a voting block that at least in 2004 was described as 55 million strong, you’re likely to get a tent that is, well, too big.
This is not a post about the word evangelical or even politics. That’s just my example. This is about intended meaning. To borrow language from Saussure, the sign may no longer point to the signified. In Gospel of John, more than the others, Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure. He gives all kinds of practical wisdom. One problem Jesus seems to anticipate is the confusion about what will properly signify the people who are Christians. So he makes a definitive statement here. The Christian will be identifiable by love.
C.S. Lewis wrote a book on love called The Four Loves. In it he explores four different Greek words that get translated as love and differentiates their meanings. My point is that perhaps Jesus has only muddied the waters in an attempt to offer clarity.
I have good news for you. The way Christians claim to know things transcends these potential muddy waters. We claim to know with the aid of the Spirit. You have been gifted by God with the ability to see beauty and compassion and I daresay love, even the love that Jesus is talking about here.
This is important because what ends up signing Christian disciples is often less than flattering. I have a confession. I’m more or less suspicious of Christian t-shirts, most of the time they seem like bad advertising to me. In so far as they represent an opportunity to edify the reader, then I think they are great. But if they have the purpose of defending a contentious issues (like creation) or drawing boundaries or they are a bad knockoff of a popular cultural image (think Ford symbol that instead spells Lord), I think they are a bad idea. Because more than likely you’re going to have that one moment in the day when you sin … say throw a can of tuna in the grocery store because your coupon expired, and a that exact moment an atheist walks by. What have you done? Confirmed his/her suspicions.
One time I saw a t-shirt that, in my mind properly critiqued, all other t-shirts. It read, “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our T-Shirts.” That of course is a rebuke based on John 13:35. I think this is a great reminder that the business of following Jesus is not easy. At the end of the day our measuring stick is our love. Nothing else. We should be wary of signs that display our discipleship all too easily.
So what about you? How would someone know if you were a Christian?
Pastoral Associate Applications
If you are part of our UBC community and are interested in serving a pastoral associate, you can apply by clicking here. Applications are due by 5:00pm on Friday, May 15th. Pastoral associates serve the mission of UBC by serving along full time staff to complete pastoral work as determined by the needs of our community and the desires of the applicant. Associates will be selected by the staff. Associates will make a commitment from June 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. If you have questions for clarification please email Josh @ email@example.com.
Our last Sunday School of the semester will happen on May 1st. Sunday summer school will begin in the first week of June.
Leadership Team Meeting
We will have our April leadership team meeting Sunday Night. If you were unable to make last months town hall or you would like information on what is being discussed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work is Worship
Coffee Makers: Sarah & Caroline
Mug Cleaners: Cooleys
- Sunday Sermon: Graduation Sunday: Mr. Rogers
- Study Hall Days: May 2nd and 3rd
- Trip to Franklins BBQ. Will Knight and Rick Lhotan will be leading a trip to Franklin's BBQ on Thursday May 19th. The trip will meat at and leave from UBC @ 6:30 A.M. If you have questions please email Will @ email@example.com.
- if you are interested in playing softball next fall please email will @firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost should be around $30.
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