“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35, NIV
You see them everywhere. Flags! The National flag is prominent, especially in July as we celebrate our American heritage. Fifty stars represent each state in our great country. Two of the stars have been added since I was born; one each for Hawaii and Alaska. The stripes represent the original thirteen colonies. As citizens, the flag of the United States identifies us as people who stand for freedom. To be sure, great multitudes have given their lives throughout history to preserve the freedoms we love and cherish. Even with all of our differences as individuals, we share in the common heritage of safeguarding liberty at all cost. When I see the National flag, I’m proud to be an American!
Jesus said, as His disciples that “love” would identify them. For those who were looking to Jesus as their leader in an uprising against the oppressive Roman government, this proclamation must have seemed more than just a little odd. Weapons and a good plan of attack, yes, but “love?” What does love have to do with victory?
Two thousand years later, don’t we still struggle with the same charge from Jesus to “love one another?” Those of us who use our automobile license plate or paste stickers to convey to others we are Christians, have a big responsibility to live up to our messages. Does being a disciple of Jesus Christ mean being perfect? No! No such person exists, Christian or otherwise. But, I do believe we are expected as proclaimed followers of Jesus to try harder and not always give in to our fleshly desires. When we do fall short of our desire to be a loving representative, we have another opportunity to get it right by apologizing for our mistake!
Jesus said, “A new command I give you” (not a suggestion). Missteps will happen but in every situation, shouldn’t our response reflect the identity we profess? Most of us don’t carry the flag around on our person identifying us as American citizens. As Christians, one thing we do possess and should identify us every day is not a something, but rather a Someone. With Jesus, we can and should love others!