By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”(John 13:35)
You would think love for God would be better proof of true discipleship. And it is—to God. But this verse is talking about how “men” see us. This may seem very shallow and “touchy-feely” to theologians and dogmatists; but, nevertheless, when you and I show love for brothers and sisters of all shapes, sizes, appearance, affiliations, and convictions, this world sees God on display. This is especially true when our love is able to include those with whom we soundly disagree. Then they are forced to say, “Hey, there’s something different going on here.”
There’s a very good reason for this principle. When you or I say (quite sincerely), “He (or she) truly loves God,” we’re claiming knowledge that only God Himself is privy to; because the actual depth of someone’s love cannot be fully seen by another. We may witness the overflow of a person’s heart; but some people overflow sooner, and for less reason, than others. Some people are far better at expressing love than employing it.
But there is another, more fundamental, argument for brotherly love as a good thermometer for measuring spiritual heat. The apostle John offers it in his first Epistle: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 Jno. 4:20) If there’s no reality to our professed love for human beings we can see and touch, how much less reality is there in our love for God, Who cannot be seen? To the unsaved man or woman, our professed love for God may only seem like spiritual enthusiasm. But when we show out of the ordinary love for ordinary people, they are more apt to see an extra-ordinary God.
The best part is that the more real God becomes to us, the easier it will be to see Him in those “earthen vessels” around us (2 Cor. 4:7). And somehow, the world picks up on the fact that when some of us look at one another, we see the face of Christ. Oh, beloved fellow believer, that changes everything!
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt.25:40)