It is sure evidence that we are so caught up in the modernist mindset that we think evidence is found only in careful argumentation, in neatly stacked syllogisms, in test-tubes and beakers. Jesus, however, tells us that it is our love for one another that demonstrates that we are His disciples (John 13:35). This love is manifest in both great ways and small. It may well be that the smaller ways are in the end a more potent message.
I’m not the first to observe this, but have you ever noticed that there are no orphanages run by atheists? That no one ever checks into a hospital founded by secularists? The world has yet to see the rise of missionaries of unbelief, men and women so committed to their “under the sun” perspective that they give up everything to go and tell the world that above us is only sky. Now I’m willing to confess that there are “mercy ministries” that exist beyond those who name the name of Christ. These, however, by and large, like the Peace Corps, or FEMA are funded with tax dollars, rather than by volunteers. And it is certainly true that there are privately funded programs run by unbelievers. These provide things like museums and ballets and orchestras, for the unbelievers. Nor should we fail to consider the reality that there are agencies providing “services” that enjoy both tax payer financing and private donations. Planned Parenthood comes to mind, whose service to humanity is the murder of babies.
It has been, by and large, the citizens of Christendom, that have served the weakest, the poorest. It is those who are Christ’s who have not only loved one another, but who, by His grace, have extended that love beyond the boarders of our commonwealth, serving those who hate us. Jesus, through His body, has given us hospitals, soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, orphanages.
Recently I witnessed the love among the brethren in a smaller and more potent venue. There we were, the fifteen or so families that make up the Mendota parish of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. We stood together outside the sanctuary while announcements and prayer requests were shared before we entered into worship. One man, who has personified service to the brethren for many years at Saint Peter, who has used his gifts and training not for personal gain but to help heal the flock, announced his request for prayer, and in so doing announced that his family was expecting another blessing, by asking that we pray for the unborn baby his dear wife was carrying. As is usual, hoots and huzzahs were raised as we celebrated the goodness of God to this family. As is usual, tears filled my eyes. God had heard our prayers. What is usual here, though I fear not so in other places, is not only that this family was rejoicing for their blessing, their eighth, but that others who likewise long for more children rejoiced as well. There was no envy. There were no begrudging acknowledgments. There were no moments of self-pity. Everyone, everyone rejoiced and gave thanks. That is unusual, and that is love among the brethren. By this will all men recognize love among the brethren, that we rejoice with those who rejoice, even as we mourn with those who mourn.
Love among the brethren is a potent apologetic. It is also, however, a blessed reward. Obedience always is.
Written: June 18, 2009
The four-part Sound Teaching: Love Thy Neighbor is available on CD or MP3 download, discussing the command to love our neighbor, who our neighbor is, and how we can do it.