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Do they know we are Christians by our love?

Discussion in 'Discipleship: Following Jesus' started by mcarans, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. mcarans

    mcarans Active Member Supporter

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    In the following article, I ask the question if observers will know we are Christians by our love (as the song goes). I make the case that love must be expressed in actions, look at reasons a Christian might give for not doing so and attempt to counter the theological ones. I talk about how our fruits affect the church's witness. Have you considered the impact the fruits of your life have on people's (particularly the young's) perception of Christianity?

    Do they know we are Christians by our love? : cruciformity
     
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  2. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Pascal said it best: "Fire!" Supporter

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    Yes, I do. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  3. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think our love should be obvious and unmistakable. You said, "Regardless of what we think about individual works and their effect or otherwise on our salvation, this does not preclude love expressed as collective action." The debate about individual works aside, the greatest evidence we can present concerning the truth of the gospel is our collective action. The love of the body reflects the glory of Christ in the world. I know plenty of individual Christians who are golden and would do anything for another. But, I wonder how the collective action of Christian love, or the lack thereof, is perceived by current society.

    Should current society be the barometer of the effectiveness of Christian collective action? Not the only, but to some extent yes. I am reminded of 1 Peter chapter 2..."Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honourable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge." I know some might dispute the timing of when they will "see" our honourable deeds, but there's no time like the present.
     
  4. Sam91

    Sam91 Child of the Living God Supporter

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    I can often tell a Christian (who I don't know) from their love and peacefulness.

    I can see a lack of it in known Christians too, often I hope they are closer to the beginning of their journey and if not I'll pray sometimes.
     
  5. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    What most non-believers define as “love” is something which Christians often can’t take part in. Therefore, I don’t think “being loving” in a way which is comprehensible to the non-Christian world is a valid criterion of authentic faith in today’s world.
     
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  6. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That's true.

    I think I know what you're getting at with this; however, there are many forms of love that are comprehensible to all people. A hungry person who is given food understands the love of the giver. The outcast and sinner who is embraced by grace understands that love has happened. The lonely who are befriended know that their new friend is "being loving" towards them.

    True love covers a lot of territory. Hypothetically speaking, if the non-Christian world were to say we are not doing those kinds of things, wouldn't it be a valid critique?
     
  7. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

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    I often find this hymn to be very ironic.
     
  8. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Do you mean because of the current state of Christianity, or for some other reason?
     
  9. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

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    Unfortunately instead of taking justifiable criticisms to heart, many Christians will consider it a form of persecution and start spouting off verses about the world hating us because of Christ.

    Many non-Christians have a terrible view of Christians and Christianity, and one of the things that we are *not* known for among them is our love. When they do come across a Christian who actually seems loving in some way, it is viewed as an exception and not the rule.

    So the hymn has an irony about it that seems to speak more of the Christian bubble vs. the reality outside of the Christian bubble.
     
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  10. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I know. It's heartbreaking. The ways of the world may be our enemy, but never those who are imprisoned by those ways. I can't understand it. How can those who rely on grace, turn around and not be gracious to others?

    That has been my experience as well. We now have a generation or two, in this culture, that have been raised outside the church. Many times their understanding of the faith is a caricature. Whatever the case, it is up to us to set the record straight and we can only do that by having love that is obvious and unmistakable. I don't know that is what is happening.
     
  11. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Pascal said it best: "Fire!" Supporter

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    Not to be trouble with a fellow brother, but on this point you're making, I'd have to say emphatically that "no," the griping that exudes from the mouths of the lost isn't nor is it always, nor necessarily, expressing a 'valid' critique. In fact, there are a lot of invalid AND unsound ideas out there among a lot of people, some that are even insane, going around these days, and the World is now at a place where it thinks "love" is that and ONLY that which acquiesces and comports with the modern social Zeitgeist that it find so very appealing. But without Jesus at the center to direct the Zeitgeist, it's a false peace.

    Well, I have 'News' for them, but whether they take it as Good News or Bad News, no matter how peaceful and helpful I try to be in attempting to deliver that same news, isn't an outcome completely in my hands.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  12. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If we are talking about the world's critique of the gospel, then that is another question. I agree, the world's critique of the good news we bring is not necessarily valid. It would depend on the critique and we can always address those. So, in that sense I wholly agree with you, PhiloVoid.

    I was referencing a possible critique of our collective love. Again hypothetically, if the world were to say that, as a whole, we are not loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are not helping the poor, we are not putting others before ourselves, we are not loving as Christ loved us, then that critique, in my mind, should be taken seriously and not cast aside as just another rejection of the truth. Whether it is a valid or sound critique would need to be considered/investigated, but it shouldn't be cast aside as just another form of persecution, or what have you.
     
  13. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes very important to walk in the Spirit daily so the fruit of the Spirit shines from us. I believe, like anything that is influenced by the flesh, we have challenges however, there will be moments in our life where we know the power of Him overshadows that influence and we overcome with righteousness and love.
    Be blessed.
     
  14. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Pascal said it best: "Fire!" Supporter

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    I wholeheartedly agree. If I didn't, I wouldn't be listening to Kierkegaard in addition to Pascal (and the Biblical authors on the whole, all leading to Jesus) like I do. But what I intend to do here is to posit not a rebuttal of either the OP or of what you've said, but to bring in the fact that there is a kind of tension involved here, one that is like walking a tight-rope, and we don't want to slip and lean too far to the Right nor too far to the Left as we make our way in our walk with the Lord.

    For instance, we can take an idea like 'kindness' or one like 'peace' and allow these ideas to rule the roost in a way that distorts what Jesus actually said on the whole. We can be guilty of this just as surely as we can also be guilty of taking other ideas like 'holiness' or 'justice' and to then push these concepts---even while being Christian---way out of the bounds of the Grace and Mercy that is surely expected by our Lord to accompany our thinking when implementing all of these things in our lives.

    So, we seek a balance, but we need to be careful to avoid importing a thoroughly Democratized notion that our peace and love will look like or sound like what the world expects peace and love to look like.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019
  15. section9+1

    section9+1 Well-Known Member

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    The statement is true. Yet Christians are imperfect people. We are very flawed and if we weren't so flawed we probably wouldn't concern ourselves with changing. The well don't need a physician. So we are often a mess. Righteousness and love are like a line stretched out before us with a point at the end. Many are a long way from that end but they are still walking toward it. I would rather be farther from that end and facing toward it than to be a lot closer and facing away from it. Where we are isn't so important as the direction we are facing. And as we walk toward the desired point, Christ walks with us.
     
  16. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I appreciate the nuance you're bringing up here. And, you're right. The accusation that Christians are not loving has been, and is, thrown up when Christians are not willing to accept behavior that the world deems acceptable.

    This seems to me all the more reason to make a conscious effort to ensure that accusation is shown to be a lie by our good works. If you accuse me in one area that I am not being loving, I want twenty other areas to show the lie.

    But, you're right. And the point you are making is definitely one that needs to be made. We do walk a fine line, sometimes. And the whole hypothetical is based on a critique of the whole, which itself is always precarious. All I can say is that, personally, when a critique of Christian love is made I take it seriously because I don't know of any other objective way to give evidence for what I believe and for the One who out of love died for me. They will know us by our love, it's inescapable.
     
  17. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Pascal said it best: "Fire!" Supporter

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    I very much agree---but just don't expect me to give a Baphomet statue .... a hug! :dontcare:
     
  18. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

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    I read somewhere recently that those who haven't experienced grace are unable to extend grace to others. I'm not so much talking on the intellectual level where we as Christians "know" that through God's grace we are saved, but on a heart level, including receiving grace from our non-divine human neighbors.

    Through my participation in other groups, organizations, and serving in areas with large numbers of non-Christians and ex-Christians, I often hear their views and perceptions of God and Christianity based on whatever they were taught, even in the churches they used to attend, and I can't help but think that if I'd been through what they've been through and believed some of the things they came to believe, I'd probably have stayed far away from church and/or Christianity too.
     
  19. public hermit

    public hermit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You, good Sir, are a Knight, but not of the Templar.
     
  20. BryanJohnMaloney

    BryanJohnMaloney Active Member

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    So, does that mean charity should only go to "productive citizens", for example?
     
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