Starting NOW

Just a few hours ago, I posted an article titled, “A New Command” about Jesus’ admonition that His disciples should be known by their love for one another. Then the decision was announced: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s Health Care Law. (I realize there are numerous readers who live outside the U.S. – forgive me. Maybe this applies to situations where you are.)

Would you allow me to humbly offer some advice about how we love each other? And could we start now?

Well meaning Christians are responding – many in anger. If my Facebook page and inbox are any indication, good church people are already mounting campaigns, raising funds, and declaring the Court’s decision as unchristian and unbiblical.

Let’s recall that early in the history of our Faith, the Roman government attempted to obliterate Jesus’ followers through ruthless persecution and barbaric punishment. They failed. In fact, within a few years the term “Christian” was transformed from a term of derision to a compliment as Rome adopted Christianity as the official religion.

That did not happen through a campaign. Christ followers did not mount protests and call press conferences and enter into public debates. There was no political action committee to receive funds and try to sway the thinking of government leaders.

The change took place not because Christians were making pejorative statements but because they loved one another and they loved their neighbors. They learned to love sacrificially; without bias, anger, or revenge as a motivation. They had no idea their behavior toward each other and their neighbors would radically change the world. The love was offered with simplicity and sincerity. Just like Jesus loves us.

I am not suggesting that Believers should not be involved in the political arena but we should be known for our love not our anger. We should be humble. If the church had been taking care of the poor and the sick, the widows and orphans we wouldn’t need a health care law.

Starting now, let’s all be careful of what we say and how we say it. People who are far from God are watching us. Let’s love one another.

Jesus said it, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”

A New Command

Today I counted them: seven emails that ended with “if you’re really a Christian, you’ll pass this on to ten friends,” or something similar. And nineteen of my “friends” on Facebook posted pithy sayings, Scripture quotations, and inspiring photos with a quasi warning: “only those who are really Christians will hit ‘share’.”

Recently, someone was helping me load my car after a presentation at a church and as the trunk was closed he said, “I’m surprised you don’t have a sign or bumper sticker that says you’re a Christian.” Without even thinking I said, “I hope I don’t need a label.”

I looked around the parking lot and almost every vehicle had some kind of fish (ichthus) or symbol that most people would interpret as “religious.” Over the next few weeks as I visited churches and navigated the highways I was keenly aware of those markers.

Are they really necessary? Do I actually need to forward those emails and share those posts on Facebook so that others will know I have chosen to follow Jesus?


Jesus never referred to his followers as Christians, only disciples. And this is what he said to them: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35.

Jesus commands his followers to love each other with the same kind of self-less, sacrificial love he showed to us by dying on the cross! He does not tell us to obey all the rules, dress a certain way, vote for a particular party or only use the organ when we sing hymns. Love one another.

The directive seems so simple – why do we find it so very difficult?

The pastors of the Pekin Ministerial Association have been trying to model this “love one another” command by setting aside our differences in doctrine, methods, and style in order to meet practical needs in our school district. But that isn’t enough. All of us who claim to follow Jesus are obligated to love each other. No permission is given to not love someone for any reason whatsoever. Love one another.

Our love for one another as Believers in Christ is what should set us apart. How are we doing?

Jesus said it, “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.”

FYI – Historically, the term “Christian” began as a derogatory, demeaning, and bigoted label. I imagine the Believers who received Paul’s letters at Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth would be flabbergasted that the term has any positive connotations at all!

Learning to Lose

Brady’s baseball team lost last night. It was a tough loss because it wasn’t even close. The Sluggers played four games in a tournament over the weekend; winning the first twoBrady_Pitch_1 decisively, losing the third in a tight game where the lead changed every inning. Then, when they were tired and sore, the fourth game was almost a rout. It was a tough lesson in losing.

We forget that every time someone wins, someone else loses. That’s the only way winners are determined in our sports-addicted culture. But losing is necessary.

Baseball players and fans all know that Hank Aaron had 755 home runs but we forget that it took 12,364 trips to the plate and that he struck out 1383 times. Losing is necessary.

When we learn to lose we begin to understand what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

We have a tendency to worship winners when in fact our worship is to be directed to Jesus who “made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant.”

It doesn’t make sense; it’s counter-intuitive. Losing is necessary.

I hope my grandson wins many a baseball game. Winning is fun and I cheer him on every opportunity I get! I also understand there will be loses and I pray those will be times of learning what it is to be humble and self-less so as to avoid being filled with vain conceit. Losing is necessary.

Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt 16:25)

Between Me and God

One of my most memorable spiritual moments was soon after my Dad died. He was only 52 and I was left in charge of the family business which I quickly discovered was bankrupt. Two weeks after the funeral, staggering under the weight of hundreds of decisions and wondering if I would even be able to buy groceries for my young family, I drove out to a secluded lake, got out of the car and screamed at the top of my lungs.

I let God know how angry I was. This was between me and God and I was yelling, stomping, pounding on the car – asking God why this had to happen to me.

Finally, exhausted, I slumped to the ground next to the car and cried. After a while I just sat in the silence; it was one of those “be still and know” moments.

God overwhelmed me with His presence. I didn’t hear any voice nor would I claim that God spoke to me at all, but in the stillness I felt relief.

God is bigger than my pain and confusion.

He’s there for you, too.