‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’ John 15:12 (NIV)
Many a denomination has grown up under the name of Christianity. Nearly all those who attend these churches are encouraged to study their Bibles. People know the stories of Jesus. We are numerous who are familiar with His teachings. Yet when it comes to following through with what Jesus wants from us, do we run into any number of differences of opinions? Would each sect and every branch of faith defend their beliefs quickly and firmly? Countless studies have been made and great disclosures are preached from pulpit and on every form of media. Every group holds strong to their interpretation of what was meant and how to carry it through. This converts into patterns of thinking and all kinds of standards of living. And do all these countless churches claim that their instruction comes directly from Jesus?
How can all this deviation be possible? To an outsider, one who is not so familiar with the Christian faith, all this difference of opinion only goes to prove that we are making up all that we believe. They say we disprove the credibility of God because our standards do not match. One group can do certain things on one day and the other group does it on another. One denomination can eat certain foods where others can´t. Some feel like they need to dress a certain way, and others can dress however they like. Some abstain from a lot of normal things in life while others are living almost indistinguishable from any other modern day family in their society. In every case the qualities that distinguish them differs.
The outsider who judges the Christian because of our denominational differences, quite often believes that the Bible is not a trustworthy source. They blame our failure to agree on the pretense that the Bible is not clear. Or they think that the whole business of religion is made up because each branch is inventing their own rituals of living and of worship. But why do we give this impression to the world we live in? Why would the outsider have to see our actions and teachings and think less of God? Is there anything we could do as a whole to show the unbeliever what God is all about? What are we doing wrong? Do we even care that the world is skeptical and is wary of our testimony?
Perhaps we could start by all going back over what Jesus really tries to teach us. Perhaps all of our leaders and influencers should go over the basics again. Perhaps a new movement within the body of believers should bring us all again to the very feet of Jesus. There in the Presence of the Lord, could we all learn anew the teachings of our Savior? Could we all be reminded by our Friend and Guide that our lives should reflect the love He came to demonstrate? Could we realize once again this necessity to love each other above and beyond our differences of opinion? By drawing near in living experience to the Son of God, could we begin to reflect His love to a disbelieving world? Would a mighty army of charitable Samaritans be able to show our skeptical brothers that the command of Jesus to His followers was to love? Who would like to change the opinion of our critics today? Could Christ´s encouragement and His command be a good place to start?
We have been sufficiently instructed. None who call themselves by Your name can say we didn´t know that You ask us to love each other. We forget so easily who our neighbor is and why we should strive to love everyone. Or we deliberately choose who and when we will. Please forgive us! Help us! Teach us again to love all those we come in contact with! Especially help us love those who refuse to love us! In this Way we will be following in Your footsteps. In this Way we will show the world that You live in us and we live in You! Fill us today with love we pray!