Unity is a community of people who seek to…
Be Known By Love
This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
It is the night that Jesus is arrested. He shares the passover meal for the last time with his close friends, the disciples. Jesus washes their feet— a surprising act, almost offensive due to its association with servitude— so that the disciples may follow the example that he has set. Because no master is greater than the servant, and no servant is greater than the master.
We are all equal in God’s kingdom.
Then Jesus talks with his disciples around the table. He shares with them surprising, almost offensive news. One of them will betray him. One of Jesus’s closest friends will turn him into the authorities. This friend will be responsible for Jesus’ eventual crucifixion.
Jesus identifies this man as Judas. And Judas storms out of the room.
I imagine that the remaining disciples are left catching their breath at this point. They are wondering what it all means…
As their minds race with questions, Jesus tells them that his time is near and that he “will be with you only a little longer.”
This is it. They are nearing the end of his ministry. Life is about to drastically change.
How will Jesus prepare them? What words of advice will he leave for them?
In this moment of uncertainty and stress, Jesus says these words:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
It’s almost as if Jesus is saying “If you remember nothing else that I said, remember this: Love one another.”
Love is the primary way that Jesus’ followers should be known.
Love is the foundational quality of Jesus’ disciples.
Love is the utmost, essential, most important attribute of those who choose to follow Jesus.
What was true for the first disciples is still true for us.
We at Unity, those who profess to follow Jesus, must be known by love.
I wonder if you have seen churches that end up being known by other attributes?
Power, for instance. Churches, like all social institutions, have a subconscious bent towards the need for power. Systems naturally want to accumulate more, gain more, grow more. Systems seek to have prestige and a reputation in a community.
Power is not what the church should be known for.
I have seen times when a church cares more about being right than about being loving. Systems tend to place policies over people. Orthodoxy over relationship. Being correct becomes more important than being caring. How many of our culture wars were started on the premise of “being right?”
Being right is not what the church should be known for.
Survival can be a tempting attribute to care most about. Some churches have a tough time keeping their doors open. Every meeting ends up becoming a finance meeting because of the stress of raising funds. Churches end up working with the foremost goal of “keeping the lights on.”
Survival is not what the church should be known for.
Now that is a very different thing to be known for.
Loving the way Jesus loves us.
Loving others; both friend and foe, member and visitor, young and old, new to faith and mature in Christ.
What if this became the central quality that all churches were known by?
The world would never be the same, that’s for sure.
At Unity, let us be known by the way that we love others—so that all of Denver may know that we are followers of Jesus.
This week we study a fascinating parable that Jesus tells of the end of time. It involves a wedding, falling asleep early, and keeping a plentiful stock of oil.
“See” you on Sunday!