Earlier this week I discussed both why I could no longer consider serving in the military and why I cannot understand why other Christians do serve in the military. My primary reason for this is that Jesus has told us to live as peacemakers and to love our enemies.
Love is the greatest characteristic that sets Christians apart from the world. This is love as defined in scripture. Although a noun, this love shows its reality as a verb. Self-sacrificial service is what biblical love is. While our culture thinks of love as gooey sentiment and mushy feelings, the writers of scripture repeatedly describe love in terms of one person helping meet the needs of another.
In John 13:34-35, during Christ's Farewell Discourse, we read one of Jesus' most profound statements. Three times he instructs his disciples to love one another. When God says something three times we can be certain that it is extremely significant.
This command to love one another is narrowly defined. Jesus expects his followers to love each other as he has loved them. In just a matter of hours the disciples will see that this may even mean dying for each other. Then Jesus says something else amazing: other people will know they are his disciples based on their love for one another.
Love, then, as God expects it may mean that we lay down our lives for each other. Additionally, non-believers will take notice that we are Christ-followers based on our treatment of each other. Apparently our love in action will mean much more than words we can say. This has obvious impact on what we think about evangelism.
God gets to determine what his followers should look like. He's made it clear. After Christ transforms us, we should be people of love. Since the Holy Spirit resides in us, this love ought to be a natural outflowing. When this is happening, the world will truly know us by our love.