I have recently heard this little phrase quoted, and misquoted. I have been bothered by it; perhaps by guilt but more likely by disappointment. As I write about it now, I know that it is for encouragement, but is it for myself, or for all of us?
“See how they love one another,” is sometimes stated as a quote made by the amazed pagans (Greeks) as they observed the Christians at the end of the first century. They were amazed, it was said, by the love-your-enemy-and your-neighbor-mentality. They were amazed that there were no poor in the community, because of all of the sharing out of love. It’s all wonderfully idyllic and beautiful and I want to believe it. I know that this persecuted group of believers were enjoying a time of tremendous growth, just as Jesus said they would if they would just love each other.
What seems to be a little more accurate is that Tertullian, writing one hundred years later said that this is what others should say about us. That we should live our lives in a community so that we reflect the love of Jesus through kindness, forgiveness, and generosity.
Consider this axiom, stated in a variety of ways by many. “A civilization is known by how it treats its weakest members.”
How would an outsider judge this civilization of this country, or your town or neighborhood.? How do I judge myself?
I work at a church in the center of town that is amazing in its beautiful architecture and detail. A church in the middle of town that works hard to provide meals for those in need, but is so dreadfully lacking in providing wholesome shelter that the whole city seems to groan under an air of indifference. Several area pastors talk about having just a handful of people in church on Sunday where there once were hundreds.
There is an obvious conclusion that can be drawn. The greater the indifference toward the poor, and the smaller the Christian community gets, the larger the population will be for those sleeping under bridges.
We all hear the same things, comments like “they should get jobs,” “it’s not my fault or problem,” “I didn’t turn them into addicts,” and “what am I supposed to do about it?”
I am challenging my town, Norristown, my church, St. John’s, and myself to trumpet the message of love and care. To fill the church with a community of believers that knows the care for the weakest among us is a reflection not of them, but of us.
See how we love each other.