Dear COA Family,
What is a most defining characteristic (or fruit) of a Christian?
I believe it is love for people in general.
This is because humanity (every male and female) is made in the image of God and worthy of the respect, care and love that God assigns to us. It is also why we would care for the sick, the intellectually disabled and the unborn even if it seems that more resources are needed to care for them than they can repay. Our consideration of human lives is not based on utilitarian principles but upon the innate value and worth that God assigns to every human being. Just recently, I met with a youth whom I had counselled quite a few years ago. He was a very withdrawn and introverted boy then and lived in his own world. It was a marvel that he was still willing to talk to me on a regular basis. He has since changed very much to be more confident and outgoing, pursuing his university studies.
When I asked him what caused his change of behaviour, he simply had this to say: “The Lord has taught me to love people.”
During his younger days, he had bad experiences of being criticised and rejected by friends and adults that made him conclude all human beings were bad. As a result, he shut himself from all contact and refused to interact with others. It was only when the Lord graciously opened his heart to love that he began to change and is now hungering after God’s word and to do His will.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says the same to his disciples, “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” (13:34-35).
Love is the one most distinctive characteristic that shows we are Christ’s disciples. As we love people and especially care for our brothers and sisters, the world can see that we are radically different from them. And they will be attracted to that difference in our lives.
Beloved, this is especially so in the age we live in where violence against human lives is espoused,
both in real life and social media. Civilian lives which are precious to the Lord are being threatened
and sacrificed. Rallies are being held in cities calling for the extermination of a certain race of people.
They are all abhorrent to God.
We need to pray to the Lord of all humanity to protect and preserve the lives of people, so that all
may have a chance to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And we need to continue to
love all people as Jesus did. He showed the extent of his love by sacrificing his life for the world that
all might be saved through him. And he calls us to be loving and love everyone in the same way.