By This All Will Know

When we think of evangelism, we often think of it in terms of the church going out and engaging the lost. We understand the Great Commission includes Jesus command to “go out and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

What we may overlook in the evangelistic process is not “the church going out,” but “the church being the church.” Let me explain.

While Jesus was giving His final marching orders just before His arrest and crucifixion in what we know commonly as the Upper Room Discourse, He said:

“By this, all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Here we get a hint about the upcoming corporate witness of the believing community of Jesus followers. One of the distinguishing characteristics of their witness to the world would simply be their love for one another. Simple, yes. Profound, yes. Easy? Not so much.

Two thousand years later we can identify. Can I get an amen?

Jesus knew a community united in love would be powerful and effective, while a community divided by infighting would be weak and ineffective.

The power behind unity would be love, the love of God expressed through the power of the Holy Spirit, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).

When the church is born in Acts 2, we see three thousand people baptized on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41). The church was born, and immediately God’s people began living in “one accord,” loving and serving one another (Acts 2:42-47).

For what purpose are we called to love one another as God’s people? First of all, it glorifies God and blesses His family. But there’s more!

In an evangelistic sense, we love one another that they who are outside the faith, a watching world if you will, may know we are His disciples! That love, the agape love of God, is described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13,

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, [b]thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The effect of that loving community of faith in Acts 2 resulted in the church finding “favor with all the people” and “the Lord adding to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

The power of love for you and me is to live out the sweet song of salvation, united, engaged, and committed to the effort of the body — that they may know! This thrust is characterized by love and the first example of this corporate love and witness is seen in Acts 2.

In practice, what does it mean for you and I to fulfill this command to love one another today? That is a matter of prayer. It certainly may look different for each of us, but the principles are overarching, important, and apply to all of us.

May we as God’s people grow in our love for one another, that they may know we are His disciples, to the end that many would come to know Jesus! Amen!

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