“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
Christians are to be known by their love. But the nature of that love should not be interpreted to exclude truth. Love minus truth is not love but merely the soft underbelly of a weak touchy feely counterfeit brand of modern day worldly love.
I recently saw this meme that said “And they’ll know we are Christians” then it had “political put downs, unkind memes, name calling, and divisive talk” all with a line through them and one final word “love.” The message was clear. It pointed to John 13:35.
Interesting meme. I get it’s message. But as most memes are, it can be misleading. How you define “love,” makes all the difference in the world. Therefore, the meme needs to be clarified. True loving involves speaking truth to someone -“but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—“ (Ephesians 4:15.). That truth makes people feel uncomfortable. The world, and those made uncomfortable by truth, have come to use accusations of “hate” to try and discredit truth. That should not deter us.
Now I will agree that the truth is often spoken separate from love such as mentioned in the meme above. But that should not deter us from seeking and speaking truth in every area of life, especially when it comes to matters of eternal life.
The Bible speaks of exposing evil “works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). It speaks of the Spirit’s restraining lawlessness and unrighteous deception through the Church. And it speaks of those who God will give up to deception “because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12). These are all things that should not be left unsaid but are, by this simple meme.
Speaking truth about the evil terrible effects of sin and sinful lifestyles is not welcomed by a sinful world. Speaking about the realities of hell and damnation and the ultimate consequences of sinful rebellion and willful ignorance of God, are not popular today. People confronted with such aspects of truth are likely to run to their safe spaces while pointing an accusatory finger at the truth bearer shouting “Hater! Hater! Where’s your love?!” But this is part of being known by our love. Better to warn now in love. Better to love enough now to speak truth now, than to face shame and regret later from the mournful why-didn’t-you-tell-me stares of those on the line to Final Judgment.
If we have any doubt as to whether love involves truth, we need look no further than the most loving Man who ever lived, God in the flesh, Jesus. How did He love? He picked up His cross. He went to the cross. He died on the cross, all while people spat on Him and lashed Him. All because He delivered a loving message of truth. If being a “Christian” means being “little Christ’s,” where is such cross bearing and truth telling today? And ask yourself this, if Jesus’ message was devoid of any political consequence or relevance, why did Herod seek to kill Him? (See Luke 13:31-32). Just wondering. Truth is is not limited to comfortable segmented portions of life. Truth applies to all areas of life, otherwise it becomes half truths and part of deception.
When under interrogation by Pilate, Jesus stated His life purpose as, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). So when we speak of being identified as Christians and speak of love, that love can never be separating from truth. And that truth should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God.