Known By Our…Love?

Known By Our…Love?

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Have you ever heard a song that triggered all sorts of conflicting emotions inside of you?

 

You know those songs, right? Maybe it’s an old love song that represents a season of your life that you’d much rather forget. When you hear that song, for something like 94% of your being, the instinct is to quickly find another song. Try as you might to ignore it, though, there’s a small part of you, the other 6%, that sighs and reminisces for just a moment. Don’t you just hate when that happen? Maybe it’s just me.

There are other songs that cause smiles to quickly cover our faces, with their upbeat tempo and catchy lines.  It’s a beautiful thing. Even so, that happy feeling can be tempered in a moment and without warning as you wrestle with the hope of that song when compared to the difficulties of real life. Music can cause great inner turmoil! Such was the case a few days ago when I heard what could only be described as a classic Christian folk tune called, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love. Check out the lyrics…

 They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

 We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.
 
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

 

Hearing the song – its lyrics, upbeat tempo, and Kingdom-focus made me smile. The idea of unity in the Spirit. The idea of a people walking hand in hand to spread the Good News. The idea that, somehow…someday, the term Christian would be synonymous with great love caused warm feelings of joy to well up within me. Almost immediately, though, I began to think about the innumerable ways that we’ve fallen short of this desirable outcome. The truth is that Christians, especially in this country, are known for anything but love. It’s because of the ways that we treat each other and the ways in which we engage those outside of our faith. If you think about it long enough, it can become depressing.  We’ve greatly missed the mark!

 

Even so, God is faithful and offers reminders of the possibilities that can encourage us to keep going despite the uphill nature of the journey. A few weeks ago, one of my former youth ministry kids lost his mother after an extended illness. This young man had  been an integral part of my early youth ministry years here in Minneapolis. Over the years, there were countless bible studies, lunches, missions trips, BBQ’s at our house, conversations about every imaginable topic, graduations and so much more. I had walked alongside this kid as a big brother and spiritual mentor for years. We had not talked as regularly for about year, but hearing about the death of his mother meant that there was yet another season that would need to journeyed together. That’s what you do for the people you love.

I did not have to respond alone, though. There was a tremendous outpouring of love and support from many others. It was another of those “beauty from ashes” moments that I’ve come to expect of God. On the day of his mom’s memorial, I found myself sitting at a table with this young man, 3 other of my friends who had mentored him, and several of his peers who had become like family in our youth ministry. We shared exaggerated stories, laughed a lot, wiped a tear or two, and enjoyed the classic Baptist church meal. You know what it was!

In those moments, which had the potential to be the hardest of this guy’s life to this point, I witnessed true Christian love. I saw what it was to surround someone who had nothing to give us in return and love them. I can imagine that Death was pissed off because his sting had not had the intended effect. It’s precisely those kinds of moments where we get to peel back the layers of this life and get a peek of the Kingdom of God breaking through. It’s a beautiful thing!

This week, I pray that you’ll encounter a song or two that give you new hope in the coming Kingdom. May these songs cause you to smile, wrestle, yearn for more of the Kingdom of God…or some transformative combination of the 3. As that happens, may you remember God’s faithfulness and continue to live and love in miraculous ways!

Grace & Peace!
Known By Love

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