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How They Will Know His Followers

 
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Prayer-Soldier
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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 4:53 pm    Post subject: How They Will Know His Followers Reply with quote

How They Will Know His Followers

Scripture:


And when they had preached the gospel to that city and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch: Confirming the souls of the disciples and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained to them priests in every church and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed. And passing through Pisidia, they came into Pamphylia. And having spoken the word of the Lord in Perge, they went down into Attalia. And thence they sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been delivered to the grace of God, unto the work which they accomplished. And when they were come and had assembled the church, they related what great things God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
(Acts 14:21-27)

I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone: and the sea is now no more. And I, John, saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying: Behold the tabernacle of God with men: and he will dwell with them. And they shall be his people: and God himself with them shall be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more. Nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write. For these words are most faithful and true.
(Revelation 21:1-5)

When he therefore was gone out, Jesus said: Now is the Son of man glorified; and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God also will glorify him in himself: and immediately will he glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me. And as I said to the Jews: Whither I go you cannot come; so I say to you now. A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.
(John 13:31-35)

Reflection:

When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go forth and ?make disciples of all nations,? (Matthew 28:19) they did not have the benefit of cars, planes, phones, email, texts, or social media. They did not live in an easily mobile or connected world, yet, they went forth with great joy to spread the Gospel to the world. Their work was done at great risk and peril, not only due to the rigors of their travels, but also due to the persecution they faced as the power elite and false prophets of the day sought to silence the message brought forth by the disciples of Christ.

What was the message they feared? It was the message of the great power of God; the power of mercy, forgiveness, and eternal love. It was a message that all might be saved through this eternal power of God if they believe in the only begotten Son of God, the sacrifice made by Him, and the purpose of His sacrifice so that we may be forgiven of our sins.

One might think, all would rejoice to hear such news, especially as it came from those who walked with Christ and witnessed His resurrection, but such news threatened the power of men who were more concerned with their position in this world than where they might reside in the next. So, they responded with the powers of the world; the powers of outrage, persecution, and physical force. By their fruits, they demonstrated to all their separation from the will of God.

No matter the efforts of the power elite and the ruling class, the followers of Christ began to grow and spread; believing in the Gospel, knowing the persecution they would face for their belief, willing to suffer for their belief in Him and the mercy and love which He offers. (cf. Matthew 5:10) As faith in Christ spread throughout the world, the evil one worked tirelessly to silence it through oppression and violence; conflicts and persecutions which extend to our very day.

Jesus told those called to spread His Word, ?This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.? (John 13:35) Jesus did not send His disciples forth with great armies by which to force faith, rather, He sent them forth with the words and actions of love by which to encourage faith. By the fruits of those who clearly lived His Word, the people saw the great mercy, love, and forgiveness of God. Through their fruits, the people saw His truth and hearts were opened to Him.

As we reflect upon these instructions of Jesus to His followers, we must also reflect upon what they mean to us. We must ask ourselves, what fruit do we bear? Through our word and deed, will others see the love of Christ? (cf. James 2:14-26)

As we observe the injustice and evil which surrounds us and the harshness and persecution directed against us, we are tempted to respond with judgment, condemnation, and retribution. We are tempted to speak with vicious vitriol. In so doing, we are tempted to believe in the righteousness of the carving of others with our tongue, but as our words leave us like sharpened swords, what have we changed? Who will listen? What have we accomplished other than responding to evil with evil?

Love does not mean that we accept the sin, rather, that we encourage the sinner to reject the sin to which they are tempted. Love means that even as we seek to rebuke the sin, we still approach one another with humility, civility, dignity, and respect; for we are all sinners and we all need the encouragement of love to help us turn away from the darkness and the harm which flows from it.

Love means we attempt to help the less fortunate. It also means we attempt to help those whose hearts are blinded by the ways of the world so we might enable them to see the blessings possible through following the commandments of our Lord and Savior. It is hard work, which is not accomplished through a single sentence or vitriolic judgment. We cannot accomplish this through the ways of the world, but through the ways to which we are led by the Holy Spirit. Let us remember, then, the conduct to which we are called: ?Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.? (1 Peter 3:9)

As we seek to influence those who surround us and endeavor to help share the blessings of His Gospel, let us remember the love to which we are called. (cf. John 13:34, 1 Thessalonians 5:15 and 1 Peter 3:13-17) Let us remember, too, that while we may communicate with words, our commitment is demonstrated more through what we do. Before we speak, before we act, let us first ask the Holy Spirit to lead us, for He will lead us in love to help us fulfill what Jesus said, ?This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.? (John 13:35)

Questions for further reflection:

In what ways do we seek to spread the good news of the Lord?

In what ways do we face rejection by the world as we endeavor to follow Christ?

In what ways do we allow others to see the love of Christ through us?

May the peace and blessings of the Lord be with you always,
Prayer Soldier

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